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Newsletter - February 2010

We’ve just added a new theme to the Hub – What is biotechnology? This provides an ideal starting point if you are introducing biotechnology. Also recently published is the Futures thinking tool, and watch out for a new focus story – Transgenic cows – to be added to the Hub later this term.

What's new on the Hub?

What is biotechnology? – Theme
Humans have been developing biotechnologies for thousands of years. Early examples included domesticating animals and plants and using fermentation techniques to make cheese, beer and wine. This theme explores definitions of biotechnology, developments in modern biotechnologies and impacts on society.

Modern biotechnology – Information sheet
The discovery of the structure of DNA has led to unprecedented advances in biotechnology. DNA profiling, for example, has applications in forensics, medicine and agriculture with potential to improve our health and wellbeing, food production, economy, ability to solve crime and biosecurity.

Impacts of biotechnology on society – Information sheet
Modern biotechnologies offer huge potential to benefit society. However, there are many ethical issues to consider in determining what impact they will have on society. What are the risks? What are the benefits? Will everyone benefit equally?

Teaching activities

Exploring the impacts of biotechnology on society – Worksheet
Students explore a variety of recent biotechnologies and consider why they are biotechnology and how they may impact on society. This student activity can be adapted to suit students from middle primary to upper secondary.

Futures thinking tool – Interactive tool
The Futures thinking tool is designed to help you explore with your students what our society and environment may be like in the future. The tool uses generic questions to help students think about futures issues.

View the DEMO version to find out how to use the Futures thinking tool. REGISTER for the tool and LOGIN to explore future foods, future fuels or future medical care, or create your own futures issues for your students to explore.

Latest biotech news

Keep up to date with the latest biotechnology news, events and radio broadcasts. We add more items regularly, so keep an eye out for these.

No-itch wool fabric developed – News item
It’s taken a quarter of a century of research but New Zealand scientists have now discovered what makes wool fabric prickly and have developed a lightweight version that is comfortable to wear.

Willow study shows biofuel potential – News item
Willow trees are being investigated for their potential as a source of biofuel.

Genetic screening of plants – Radio New Zealand audio
Sue Gardiner gives a tour through the Plant & Food Research laboratories in Palmerston North and describes her research, which uses genetic markers to screen for beneficial traits in plants.

Leukaemia vaccine research – Radio New Zealand audio
Robert Weinkove explains why he is developing a new immunotherapy for treating leukaemia that would stimulate the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancerous cells.

More news and events

We welcome your ideas

We’re keen to hear from teachers using our resources. Email us at enquiries@biotechlearn.org.nz if you have any questions, comments or feedback about the Hub, or complete our online feedback form.

Best wishes,
The Biotechnology Learning Hub team


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