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Date: April 30, 2005
Level: Easier (Try the harder lesson.)
Downloads: This Lesson (Word Doc) | Class Handout (Word Doc) | Class Handout (PDF)

Listening (1:28 - 173.2 KB - 16kbps)

THE ARTICLE

A ten-year research project in China has produced some good news for Chinese farmers. The study, which was published in the journal Science on April 29, looked into the use of genetically modified (GM) rice. Natural varieties of rice were compared with genetically modified varieties. The GM rice was modified so that it was naturally insect-resistant. Data showed that farmers using GM rice crops produced nine per cent more rice, spent eight times less money on pesticides, and were healthier. Pesticides poison up to 50,000 Chinese farmers a year, with 500 fatalities. The leader of the research team, Dr Huang Jikun, believes GM rice is safe for commercial use. He hopes his research will persuade the Chinese government to give it the thumbs up. If this happens, it could change farming worldwide. The price of rice would fall and farmers in developing countries could grow more food.

WARM UPS

1. CHAT: Talk in pairs or groups about: rice / genetically modified (GM) food / pesticides / farmers / Chinese produce / food safety … For more conversation, change topics and partners frequently.

2. RICE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with rice. Share your words with your partner / group and talk about them.

3. VERSATILE: Rice has many, many uses and is one of the most versatile foods in the world. Write down the different ways you know of using rice in food. Add them to the list below. Which of them sound delicious and which sound strange or disgusting?

  1. boiled rice mixed with hot tea (a Japanese dish)
  2. rice for breakfast
  3. rice and curry
  4. savory rice crackers
  5. rice cakes
  6. rice balls with a pickled plum inside
  7. paella / risotto / gratin
  8. sake
  9. rice baked in milk and sugar (English dessert)
  10. a strawberry encased in sweetened pounded rice (Japanese sweet)
  11. other

4. STAPLE FOOD COMPARISON: Look at these staple foods from around the world. Circle the ones you know. Talk with your partner about how important they are to you. Research the ones you don’t know:

  1. bananas
  2. pasta
  3. cassava / tapioca
  4. lentils
  5. rice
  6. bread
  7. beans
  8. sorghum
  9. potato
  10. yams

5. “HI! I’M RICE”: You have suddenly become a staple food. You are at a staple food party. With your new stable food character, introduce yourself to other staple foods (your classmates) and talk about your life as rice / bread / cassava etc.

6. 2-MINUTE RICE DEBATES: Face each other in pairs and engage in the following fun 2-minute debates. Students A take the first argument, students B the second. Rotate pairs to ensure a lively pace and noise level is kept:

  1. Rice is better than bread. vs. Bread is better than rice.
  2. Brown rice is nicest. vs. White rice is nicest.
  3. American rice is tastiest. vs. Indian / Thai / Japanese rice is tastiest.
  4. Boiled rice is best. vs. Fried rice is best.
  5. Rice pudding (rice baked in milk and sugar) is delicious. vs. It sounds bad.
  6. Boiled rice is great for breakfast. vs. Boiled rice is best for dinner.
  7. Rice is more versatile than potatoes. vs. Potatoes are ten times more versatile.
  8. Rice is boring. vs. You must be joking.
  9. Fluffy rice is nicer. vs. Sticky rice is best.

 
 

PRE-READING IDEAS

1. WORD SEARCH: Use your dictionary / computer to find word partners (collocates), other meanings, synonyms or more information on the words ‘research’ and ‘project’.

2. TRUE / FALSE: Look at the article’s headline and guess whether these sentences are true or false:

  1. China has asked the General Motors car company to grow rice.  T / F
  2. Chinese people have voted to allow the use of GM rice.  T / F
  3. Chinese research showed genetically modified rice to be good for farmers.  T / F
  4. Insects love GM rice.  T / F
  5. Farmers using GM rice increased their rice crop by 90 per cent.  T / F
  6. Pesticides in China kill 500 farmers every year.  T / F
  7. China’s government has given GM rice the thumbs up.  T / F
  8. Farmers in developing countries would not want GM rice.  T / F

3. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article:

a.

research project

changed

b.

published

statistics

c.

looked into

deaths

d.

modified

study

e.

data

grew

f.

produced

green light

g.

fatalities

printed

h.

thumbs up

researched

4. PHRASE MATCH: Match the following phrases from the article (sometimes more than one combination is possible):

a.

research

use

b.

published in

crops

c.

natural

less money on pesticides

d.

insect

the journal Science

e.

rice

resistant

f.

spent eight times

project

g.

commercial

thumbs up

h.

give it the

varieties of rice

 

WHILE READING ACTIVITIES

1. ODD WORD OUT: Circle the word in each group of three (in italics) that does not fit.

Chinese thumbs up for GM rice

A ten-year research project in China has produced / come up with / grown some good news for Chinese farmers. The study, which was published in the journal Science on April 29, looked into the abuse / use / advantages of genetically modified (GM) rice. Natural varieties of rice were compared with genetically modified varieties. The GM rice was modified / altered / destroyed so that it was naturally insect-resistant. Data / statistics / numerals showed that farmers using GM rice crops produced nine per cent more rice, spent eight times less money on pesticides / insecticides / suicides, and were healthier. Pesticides poison up to 50,000 Chinese farmers a year, with 500 fatalities. The leader of the research team, Dr Huang Jikun, believes GM rice is safe for commercial use. He hopes his research will convince / brainwash / persuade the Chinese government to give it the thumbs up / green light / green thumb. If this happens, it could change farming worldwide. The price of rice would fall and farmers in developing countries could grow more food.

2. TRUE/FALSE: Check your answers to the T/F exercise.

3. SYNONYM MATCH: Check your answers to this exercise.

4. PHRASE MATCH: Check your answers to this exercise.

5. QUESTIONS: Make notes for questions you would like to ask the class about the article.

6. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.


 
 

POST READING IDEAS

1. ODD WORD OUT: Check your answers to this exercise.

2. QUESTIONS: Ask the discussion questions you thought of above to your partner / group / class. Pool the questions for everyone to share.

3. VOCABULARY: As a class, go over the vocabulary students circled above.

4. STUDENT GM FOOD SURVEY: In pairs/groups write down questions about genetically modified food. Ask other classmates your questions and report back to your original partner/ group to compare your findings.

5. ‘RESEARCH’ / ‘PROJECT’: Make questions based on your findings from pre-reading activity #1. Ask your partner / group your questions.

6. DISCUSSION:

  1. Did you like reading this article?
  2. Did anything in the article surprise you?
  3. Did anything in the article worry you?
  4. What do you think of the idea of GM rice?
  5. Do you think genetically modified food is a good thing?
  6. What are the arguments for and against GM food?
  7. George W. Bush says GM crops would mean African farmers could grow more food. What do you think of this?
  8. Is genetically modifying food similar to cloning animals?
  9. Are scientists genetically modifying us when they genetically modifying our food?
  10. GM food is new. We don’t know the long term effects. Is this dangerous?
  11. Do you think GM crops will change the environment?
  12. Are you a big rice lover?
  13. Is rice important in your life?
  14. Could you live without rice?
  15. What is the best way to eat rice?
  16. Would you buy GM rice grown in China?
  17. Which country produces the tastiest rice?
  18. Should rice be baked in milk and sugar, with perhaps cinnamon, raisins or even strawberry jam added, as with British rice pudding?
  19. Did you like this discussion?
  20. Teacher / Student additional questions.

7. GM FOOD DEBATES: Students A are for GM food, Students B are against. Team up and brainstorm all of the arguments to support your side of the debate. Either person against person, pair against pair or team against team, carry out your debates.

Change sides and repeat the debates to see if the debates change.

8. OPINIONS: In pairs / groups, write down the opinions of the following people or creatures on GM rice. Change partners and exchange opinions. Talk about whether or not you agree with these opinions.

  1. farmer
  2. an organic vegetable grower
  3. a Greenpeace supporter
  4. a poor person
  5. a scientist
  6. a wild animal that lives on farms
  7. an insect that eats the crops on the farms
  8. a supermarket owner

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find information on rice. Share your findings with your class next lesson.

3. STAPLE FOOD: Research staple foods from around the world. Show where different staples are grown around the world and the different ways they are used.

4. FARMER: Imagine you are a farmer somewhere in the world. Write a letter to your government explaining your opinions on genetically modified crops.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

  1. China has asked the General Motors car company to grow rice.  F
  2. Chinese people have voted to allow the use of GM rice.  F
  3. Chinese research showed genetically modified rice to be good for farmers.  F
  4. Insects love GM rice.  F
  5. Farmers using GM rice increased their rice crop by 90 per cent.  F
  6. Pesticides in China kill 500 farmers every year.  T
  7. China’s government has given GM rice the thumbs up.  F
  8. Farmers in developing countries would not want GM rice.  F

SYNONYM MATCH:

a.

research project

study

b.

published

printed

c.

looked into

researched

d.

modified

changed

e.

data

statistics

f.

produced

grew

g.

fatalities

deaths

h.

thumbs up

green light

PHRASE MATCH:

a.
b.
c.
d.
e.
f.
g.
h.

research
published in
natural
insect
rice
spent eight times
commercial
give it the

project
the journal Science
varieties of rice
resistant
crops
less money on pesticides
use
thumbs up

ODD WORD OUT: The odd words out are underlined

Chinese thumbs up for GM rice

A ten-year research project in China has produced / come up with / grown some good news for Chinese farmers. The study, which was published in the journal Science on April 29, looked into the abuse / use / advantages of genetically modified (GM) rice. Natural varieties of rice were compared with genetically modified varieties. The GM rice was modified / altered / destroyed so that it was naturally insect-resistant. Data / statistics / numerals showed that farmers using GM rice crops produced nine per cent more rice, spent eight times less money on pesticides / insecticides / suicides, and were healthier. Pesticides poison up to 50,000 Chinese farmers a year, with 500 fatalities. The leader of the research team, Dr Huang Jikun, believes GM rice is safe for commercial use. He hopes his research will convince / brainwash / persuade the Chinese government to give it the thumbs up / green light / green thumb. If this happens, it could change farming worldwide. The price of rice would fall and farmers in developing countries could grow more food.



 
 


 
 

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