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Musterlösung 2013: Textverständnis und Analyse: Sachtext: "Sorry Bill Gates" (GK)


  1. Summarize the text. (30 BE)
  2. Relate the controversy over GMO crops to another debate in modern science as encountered in class.  (40 BE)



The article “Sorry Bill Gates: GMO Crops Proven to be Ineffective at Fighting World Hunger” by Anthony Gucciardi, published online, deals with Bill Gates’ claim that genetically modified crops can aid to solve world food problems.

As a stockholder for Monsanto, one of the biggest biotechnology companies, Bill Gates promoted GMOs as the solution to fighting starvation worldwide, despite the fact that a team of 900 scientists had found that GM crops were not more effective than traditionally grown crops. Not only did the team of experts prove that Gates’ claims were incorrect, they were also able to show that the same crops also posed a threat to people’s health and to wildlife, mainly to insects. As these facts were published well before Bill Gates’ public speech, this raises suspicion that Bill Gates ignored these facts in the interests of Monsanto and its shareholders.

(144 words)


Food has always been one of mankind’s most essential problems. About 800 million people around the world suffer from starvation and malnutrition. About 1.5 million children die from hunger every year. And while scientists have placed high hopes in GMO crops to solve this global problem, the food and agricultural sector in industrialised countries is constantly busy improving our food to make it better and healthier.

Food is no longer meant to serve the single purpose of satisfying our hunger, at the same time it should also prevent illnesses and support our health. So called functional food has become a business of its own over the last decade and even though the actual health benefit of probiotic yoghurts and orange juice fortified with extra vitamin C and calcium is not proved, the market for designer food has been growing constantly.

Functional foods are foods with special properties that have a potentially positive effect on people’s health. These properties may occur naturally in foods like salmon which is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, or oat flakes which have a lot of soluble fibre and can help lower one’s cholesterol level. The new trend today, however, is foods that are modified to contain the extra portion of vitamins or minerals. Examples for this are, for instance, milk enriched with calcium for bone health or margarine fortified with plant sterols to lower cholesterol. Such products promise to help prevent against cardiovascular diseases, cancer or osteoporosis.

But as the food industry makes millions out of their acclaimed health enhancing products, nutrition experts and doctors warn that the health benefits promised are by no means assured. Just as the motives for Bill Gates’ stand-up speech for genetically modified crops are put into question, many consumer advocates doubt the food industry’s sincere interest in people’s health and well-being. No matter whether their effects are beneficiary, functional foods have become a big business in which many companies seek to get their share.  

Even if the efforts of biotechnology in the attempt to improve our life expectancy, our standard of living or to find ways against worldwide hunger should not be belittled, it does appear as if progress in scientific research and those seeking to make profit from it can never be quite kept apart. All the more, it is important to put biotechnology under close scrutiny, the more so as the potential risks to the environment and our health are as yet difficult to estimate.  

(409 words)

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