Lesson AWF-2

Welcome! Please consider how your attitude affects your and other students' experiences of the lesson. 

Be respectful, come prepared, and show interest to have the best possible educational experience. 

Lesson goals

Read and understand a text on genetic engineering, study new vocabulary, grammar as well as practice discussing the impact on the future using your writing and quoting skills.

Lesson activities

Vocabulary exercise

Reading comprehension

Broad or narrow path

Vocabulary exercise

Time for the  activitity: ~10-15 minutes

Answer key

Reading comprehension

Time for the  activitity: ~5 minutes

Should genetic engineering become more commonplace?

Should genetic engineering become more commonplace?


A positive 59% of Britons agree with controversial stem cell research, according to research by ICM conducted on behalf of the Guardian. The slight majority of respondents, 51% are in support of genetic engineering when designed to correct physical defects in unborn children. This indicates a positive change in the public's attitude to genetic engineering and is good news for the scientists who are adamant that cloning cells is the way to find cures for some of our most debilitating genetic diseases.


Stem cell research is advancing apace. Stem cells are cells that are capable of growing into any of the 300 different kinds of cell in the human body and researchers currently extract them from human embryos that have been discarded during fertility treatments.


However, British scientists are currently seeking approval to create embryos by fusing human cells with animal eggs in controversial research, which will boost stem cell science and tackle some of the most debilitating and untreatable neurological diseases. If they get approval from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority they plan to create embryos that will be 99.9% human and 0.1% rabbit or cow by fusing human cells with animal eggs. They will then use the embryos to create stem cells that carry the genetic defects responsible for neurological conditions such as motor neurone disease. By converting the stem cells into neurons, the scientists will be able to unravel how the disease destroys nerves and identify drugs to stop or reverse the damage.

However, although the public are largely on side on the use of genetic engineering to help cure illness or provide transplant organs, there is still an overwhelming resistance to parents creating "designer babies". Only 13% of respondents to the ICM survey said they were in support of the parent's right to use genetic engineering to design their unborn child, with 63% opposing the process. However, a higher 20% of 18-24 year olds said they would condone the practice, which suggests perhaps that future generations will be more open to the idea.


Currently it is only legally possible to carry out two types of advanced reproductive technologies on humans using InVitrio Fertilisation to fertilise eggs with sperm in test tubes outside the mother's body. The first involves choosing the type of sperm that will fertilise an egg: this is used to determine the sex and the genes of the baby. The second technique screens embryos for a genetic disease: only selected embryos are implanted back into the mother's womb. This is called Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis.


Fears are that this technique will be taken a stage further and used to select personality traits in the unborn child, from their hair or eye colour, to their ability to perform well in sports or exams. However, the results of the survey show that it will be some time before public opinion turns in favour of us playing God with our unborn children, while the way seems clear for scientists to continue the advancement of genetic engineering to help us live longer, healthier lives.


Antonia Windsor, The Guardian, 2011 

Used with permission. Abridged.

Time for the  activitity: ~5 minutes

Broad or narrow path

Select between the two paths to improve your vocabulary, grammar and comprehension

The broader, less challenging, path - for students who want to grow using basic exercises. 

The narrow, more challenging, path - for those who want to grow using advanced exercises. 


Study the quizlet from AWF-1.

Decide which of the two articles (robotics or genetic engineering) that you want to write about next lesson.

Exit ticket

Share your comment on the the article that you read.