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Newsletter - November 2009

We’ve recently published a new theme – Food intolerance and allergies – which looks at biotechnological solutions for diagnosing and treating people with milk intolerance. This month, we’ve also released the Ethics Thinking Tool, an interactive tool designed to help you explore ethical issues with your students.

What's new on the Hub?

Food intolerance and allergies – Theme
Milk intolerance is the most common food intolerance and occurs in about 75% of the world’s population. In this theme, we describe the cause of milk intolerance and examine some of the biotechnological solutions for diagnosing and treating milk intolerance.

A genetic test for lactose intolerance – Information sheet
Researchers at the Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch have devised a simple genetic test for milk intolerance that uses common molecular biology techniques such as polymerase chain reaction, restriction enzyme digests and gel electrophoresis.

Teaching activities

Ethics Thinking Tool – Interactive tool
The Ethics Thinking Tool is designed to help you explore ethical issues with your students using ethical frameworks. The tool contains generic questions to prompt students to think about an issue using different frameworks.

View the DEMO version to find out how to use the Ethics Thinking Tool. REGISTER for the tool and LOGIN to explore the ethics of biofuels, the ethics of conservation or the ethics of performance-enhancing drugs or to create new ethical issues for your students to explore.

Frameworks for ethical analysis – Information sheet
The Ethics Thinking Tool uses common ethical frameworks to help you explore ethical decision-making and judgements with your students. You may use one or more of the following frameworks:

  • Consequences – what are the benefits and risks?
  • Rights and duties – what rights need to be protected, and who is responsible for this?
  • Autonomy – should individuals have the right to choose for themselves, or does one decision count for everyone?
  • Virtue ethics – what is the ‘good’ thing to do?
  • Multiple perspectives – what perspectives do groups with other cultural, spiritual or religious views have?

Bioethics – Theme
Bioethics is the study of moral values and codes in relation to biotechnology research and its applications. In this theme, we have examples of some ethical issues you might like to explore with your students, including organ donation, animal to human transplants (xenotransplantation) and whaling.

Bioethics video gallery – Video clips
Learn more about ethical frameworks and how to use them in your teaching in this series of video clips with UK bioethics expert Michael Reiss.

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.

Medical ice cream trial underway – News item
An ice cream developed to prevent some of the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy in cancer patients is currently being tested.

Fungus tackles bee mite – News item
A common fungus has been found to be an effective weapon against the bee-killing varroa mite.

Booster Broccoli – Radio New Zealand audio
Booster Broccoli™ is the first product in a new range of so-called ‘super’ vegetables. Booster Broccoli™ contains high levels of glucosinolates, which are converted to anti-cancer agents called sulforaphanes. Audio duration: 21:45

More news and events

We welcome your ideas

We’re keen to hear from teachers using the 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,
Dr Diane Dinnis, Project Manager
New Zealand Biotechnology Learning Hub


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