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Surprising Science

Teenagers’ DNA Experiments

A row has broken out in France over whether teenagers should be allowed to genetically modify bacteria in the classroom.

A row has broken out in France over whether 15- and 16-year-olds should be allowed to create transgenic E. coli bacteria in the classroom. Practical experiments in which students learn how to use plasmids to alter the DNA of the bacteria have been under way for France’s 17 and 18-year-olds for the past decade. But this year teachers have been offered the option of teaching the experiments to younger students. The Committee for Research & Independent Information on Genetic Engineering is particularly upset because in the experiments the students modify the bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic ampicillin.


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