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BIO8045 : Genetically Engineered Organisms: Food, Pharmaceutical & Industrial Sectors (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Angharad MR Gatehouse
  • Lecturer: Professor William Willats, Dr Paul Bilsborrow, Dr Timothy Boswell, Dr Jon Marles-Wright
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


• To ensure that students are informed of contemporary aspects of GEOs in the Food, Pharmaceutical and Industrial sectors and are able to evaluate their potential critically.

• To illustrate how transgenic and cloning technologies lead to practical, including commercial, applications.

• To inform students of current and pipeline crops and traits that have been derived using recombinant DNA technology for food and industrial products.

• To evaluate safety and environmental issues of transgenic crops.

• To evaluate the impact of the discovery of animal cloning on animal reproduction, transgenesis and regenerative medicine.

• To consider the social and ethical implications of developments in plant and animal biotechnology.

• To enhance students’ critical appraisal skills through the usage of primary and secondary literature and debate.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module is designed to provide an introduction to the latest developments of recombinant DNA technology in the food, biomedical, pharmaceutical and industrial sectors. It will cover the role of genetically engineered crops in agricultural systems, specifically those developed for tolerance/resistance to stress, as well as the use of transgenic crops as ‘biofactories’ for the production of molecules and macromolecular assemblies including sustainable materials. The module will also include an introduction to advanced molecular techniques used for screening transformed plants, and to evaluate the direct and pleiotropic effects of genetic engineering. The module will also consider in depth the environmental impact relating to the wide scale growing of such crops and the safety assessment of GEOs for human and animal consumption. Consideration of animals will include potential use of transgenic insects for crop protection strategies, the use of transgenic and cloned animals for food production and agriculture, and use of transgenic animals for producing pharmaceutical proteins. Cloning applications will extend into human medical applications in the context of regenerative medicine, including consideration of induced pluripotent stem cells The module will also address social and ethical implications of genetic modification and cloning technologies.

Applications of Plant Genetic Engineering
• Resistance to biotic stress (pests and diseases)
• Resistance to abiotic stress (environmental)
• Improved nutritional qualities
• Optimization of biorefining and processing properties, for example, in relation to biofuels

The Safety Assessment of Transgenic Plants
• Safety studies for foods, feeds and processed fractions
• Ecological testing and evaluation of genetically modified crops

Environmental and Public Consequences of Biotechnology in Agriculture
• Effects of transgenic plants on non-target organisms
• Public perception of transgenic organisms in Agriculture

Applications of Transgenesis in Fish and Farm Animals
• Development of transgenic fish for commercial food production and environmental monitoring

Potential of Transgenic Farm Animals for Food Production and Nutritional Modification
• Transgenic farm animals: applications for human medicine

Applications of Transgenesis and Paratransgenesis in Insects
• Medical Biotechnology, including gene drives (for control of insect vectored diseases)
• Industrial Biotechnology (production of valuable commercial products)
• Agricultural Biotechnology (in crop protection)

Impact and Development of Animal Cloning Technology
• Dolly the sheep and development of nuclear transfer technology
• Applications for reproductive cloning
• Use of nuclear transfer to refine methods for transgenesis in farm animals
• Application of therapeutic cloning to regenerative medicine

Ethics of Cloning and Genetic Modification
• Seminar on application of ethical principles to a relevant example of animal or human biotechnology

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture241:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture62:0012:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion136:0036:002500 word essay
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Case Study
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion112:0012:00Lab Report
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Ethics seminar report
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading241:0024:00Completion of post-lecture directed reading
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study133:0033:00Study of lectures, ReCap, Blackboard etc.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study241:0024:00Lecture follow-up
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will both review background and provide state-of-the-art information on the technology; the module will also be informed by current research being carried out at Newcastle. The lectures will also provide key concepts and developments with illustrative examples. Key aspects of the lecture material will be covered in greater depth in the seminars.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M602500 word report
Written exercise2M30Case study of genetic modification (1500 words)
Written exercise2M10Ethics seminar report (1000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will enable students to explore research developments in more depth in the style of a scientific review article. This is complimented by a directed case study which allows students to focus on a practical application of genetic engineering of their own choosing. The ethics seminar report requires students to formulate a logical argument within an ethical framework.

Reading Lists