Unit 1
The Nature of Life



At the beginning of Unit 1, Joe Levine posed these questions about the scientific future:

• How will individuals, businesses, and governments respond to new information about humanity's complex effects on the living world?
• How will studies of life's smallest systems (molecules) help us understand the largest biological systems (ecosystems and the biosphere)?

Scientific developments relevant to Unit 1

A Scientific Controversy: Are genes from genetically-engineered corn making their way into native maize in Mexico, the land where this productive crop was first domesticated? An article in the Nov. 29, 2001 issue of the prestigious scientific journal Nature argued that such genes had been detected in native maize, the evolutionary ancestor of modern corn. Several other scientists criticized the paper, however, and the journal took the unusual step of admitting that the scientific evidence supporting the paper was not up to Nature's usual standards. An article in the April 13, 2002 issue Science News describes the controversy.
Additional Resources:

A description of the issues from the International Maize & Wheat Improvement Center. (A Second Report on the same issue is also worth reading).
• Some of the Issues regarding genetically-modified food crops.
(from Bio-IT World)
• A news report on the situation in Mexican croplands (from Seedquest)



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