Argument Writing Assignment

Read about the ongoing debate over the use of genetically modified (GM) food.
What are the benefits and dangers of producing and consuming foods that have been genetically
modified? You will write an argumentative essay in your own words supporting either side of the
debate in which you argue for or against the use of GM food. Follow all instructions in the attachment. Rubric is attached.
argument_writing_assignment.pdf

argument_writing_rubric.pdf

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Georgia Milestones Grade 8 EOG Assessment Guide | English Language Arts (ELA)
Example Item 3
DOK Level: 4
English Language Arts (ELA) Grade 8 Content Domain: Writing and Language
Standard: ELACC8W2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas,
concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
In this section, you will read about the ongoing debate over the use of genetically modified (GM) food.
What are the benefits and dangers of producing and consuming foods that have been genetically
modified? You will write an argumentative essay in your own words supporting either side of the
debate in which you argue for or against the use of GM food.
Before you begin planning and writing, read the two texts:
1. “GM Food Saves Lives”
2. “What We Don’t Know About GM Food Can Kill Us”
As you read the texts, think about what details from the texts you might use in your argumentative
essay.
GM Food Saves Lives
by Rebecca Wilson
Genetically modified (GM) food was introduced to the citizens of the United States in 1994. Since
then, the use of genetics on produce and animals has become so widespread that each person in the
United States is most likely eating GM food daily. A primary reason for its popularity is how beneficial
it is to people and businesses.
What is genetic modification?
Plants and animals naturally go through a process of selection for survival. Features that make the
plant or animal more likely to live are passed along, and features that are not advantageous are
weeded out. These genetic mutations occur over generations, though, making improvement a slowmoving process. Scientists discovered that they could improve specific characteristics quickly by
introducing foreign genes into an organism, such as those from plants, animals, and even viruses. For
example, exposing a plant to a certain virus can make it more resistant to disease. Transferring genes
from cows to pigs can help the pigs create more milk for larger litters of piglets. The targeting of
genes allows scientists to bring out the specific traits of a product that will make it more successful.
Uses of GM foods
There are three main reasons for genetically modifying food: to produce more food at lower cost, to
increase the health value of the food, and to make the food more desirable. When crops are modified
to withstand disease and drought, it takes fewer resources to produce them, and fewer crops are lost.
But altering food goes much further than this. Scientists are also able to make food more nutritious.
For example, Golden Rice is infused with vitamin A in the hopes of saving the lives of children
suffering from vitamin A deficiencies. However, the earliest uses of GM food are still the most
Georgia Department of Education
November 2014 l Page 16 of 101
All rights reserved.
Georgia Milestones Grade 8 EOG Assessment Guide | English Language Arts (ELA)
popular. Genetic modification makes food look and taste better. Tomatoes stay ripe longer. Apples
have fewer bruises. Strawberries grow larger.
Safety
Opponents of GM food say that changing an organism’s genetic code is dangerous. They say that
changes to a plant’s durability can create superweeds that kill crops and that altering nutrition values
could cause health problems for the people who eat the food. Yet thousands of research studies have
shown no evidence that GM food causes harm, either to the environment or to people. It’s safe,
effective, and needed in a time when food shortages are skyrocketing.
What We Don’t Know About GM Food Can Kill Us
by Daniel McLeod
Humans have a history of moving forward with great ideas—until they realize that those ideas
weren’t so great. Back in the 1940s, people around the world started using a miracle insecticide called
DDT (“dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane”). It killed every annoying insect out there! It was helping to
eliminate malaria-carrying mosquitoes and life-threatening spiders. DDT was the best insecticide
ever—until people realized the severe damage it was doing to the environment. It took over thirty
years of using the chemical agent for scientists to verify the problems and for countries to ban DDT’s
use. Only now, seventy years since it became popular, are some of the species negatively affected by
it finally regaining a foothold on life.
Genetically modified (GM) food is our generation’s DDT. Just as before, people have jumped headlong
into the process of making food better, stronger, and different through changes to an organism’s
genetic code. Scientists are altering plants and animals at their most fundamental levels with no
regard to the effects we might see in twenty, thirty, or even seventy years from now. True, this
process is producing food at a lower cost and higher rate, something this world desperately needs,
but at what cost?
There have been documented cases of genetically altered crops affecting the durability of weeds that
compete for the crops’ resources. It’s believed the genetic mutation of the crops spread to the weeds.
These weeds, called superweeds, are aggressive and resistant to the chemicals used to kill them and
now threaten the crops’ growth. Another current problem is the reduction in insects such as
butterflies and bees, which pollinate flowers. Crops designed to produce natural insecticides are
killing off these important creatures. The ecosystem is thrown off balance without them.
Those problems are nothing compared to the ones we don’t know about yet. How will these
modifications affect the humans who consume this food over a lifetime? How will unforeseen
mutations affect the food? These questions can’t be answered right now since we won’t see the
effects for decades.
The biogenetics companies that produce GM food say the food has been tested by thousands of
studies. What they don’t say, however, is that they are the ones who funded the studies. Their
financial interest in studies showing that GM food is safe compromises the believability of the studies.
How might their corporate dollars have affected the results the scientists are reporting?
Georgia Department of Education
November 2014 l Page 17 of 101
All rights reserved.
Georgia Milestones Grade 8 EOG Assessment Guide | English Language Arts (ELA)
The plain truth is that we don’t know how GM food will affect humans, plants, and animals in the
future. We shouldn’t be risking our lives by eating altered food without knowing whether or not
genetic modification is another DDT.
Now that you have read “GM Food Saves Lives” and “What We Don’t Know About GM Food Can Kill
Us,” create a plan for your argumentative essay.
Think about ideas, facts, definitions, details, and other information and examples you want to use.
Think about how you will introduce your topic and what the main topic will be for each paragraph. Be
sure to identify the sources by title or number when using details or facts directly from the sources.
Write an argumentative essay in your own words supporting either side of the debate in which you
argue for or against the use of GM food. Be sure to use information from both texts.
Now write your argumentative essay. Be sure to:
· Introduce your claim.
· Support your claim with logical reasoning and relevant evidence from the texts.
· Acknowledge and address alternate or opposing claims.
· Organize the reasons and evidence logically.
· Use words, phrases, and clauses to connect your ideas and to clarify the relationships among
claims, counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
· Establish and maintain a formal style.
· Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument
presented.
· Check your work for correct usage, grammar, spelling, and capitalization.
Georgia Department of Education
November 2014 l Page 18 of 101
All rights reserved.
Criteria
Distinguished
Idea
80 points
Development,
Organization,
The student’s
and Coherence response is a welldeveloped essay
that effectively
relates and
supports claims
with clear reasons
and relevant
evidence.
Proficient
60 points
The student’s
response is a
complete
argument that
relates and
supports claims
with some
evidence.
Developing
40 points
Beginning
20 points
The student’s
response is an
incomplete or
oversimplified
argument that
partially supports
claims with loosely
related evidence.
The student’s
response is a weak
attempt to write an
argument and does
not support claims
with adequate
evidence.
-Clearly
-Effectively
introduces a
introduces a claim
claim
-Attempts to
establish a claim
-May not introduce an
opinion or claim, or
the opinion or claim
must be inferred
-Uses specific and
well-chosen facts,
details, definitions,
examples, and/or
other information
from sources to
develop claims
fully
-Uses specific
facts, details,
definitions,
examples,
and/or other
information from
sources to
develop claims
-Develops,
sometimes
unevenly, reasons
and/or evidence to
support opinion or
claim
-Has minimal support
for opinion or claim
-Acknowledges
and counters
opposing claims,
as appropriate
-Attempts to
acknowledge
and/or counter
opposing claims,
as appropriate
-Makes little, if any,
attempt to
acknowledge or
counter opposing
claims
-Makes no attempt to
acknowledge or
counter opposing
claims
-Uses an
organizational
strategy to present
reasons and
relevant evidence
-Uses an
organizational
strategy to
present some
reasons and
evidence
-May be too brief to
-Attempts to use an
demonstrate an
organizational
organizational
structure, which
structure, or no
may be formulaic
structure is evident
-Uses words,
phrases, and/or
clauses that
-Uses words
effectively connect and/or phrases
and show
to connect ideas
relationships
among ideas
-Uses limited clear
language and
vocabulary to
manage the topic
-Uses vague,
ambiguous, or
repetitive language
Language
Usage and
Conventions
-Uses and
maintains a formal
style that is
appropriate for the
task, purpose, and
audience
-Uses a formal
style fairly
consistently for
task, purpose,
and audience
-Uses few words or -Uses no words or
phrases to connect phrases to connect
ideas
ideas
-Provides a strong
concluding
statement or
section that
logically follows
from the argument
presented
-Provides a
concluding
statement or
section that
follows from the
argument
presented
-Uses formal style
inconsistently or an
informal style that
does not fit task,
purpose, or
audience
-Uses a very informal
style that is not
appropriate for task,
purpose, or audience
-Provides a weak
concluding
statement or
section
-Provides a minimal
or no concluding
statement or section
20 points
15 points
10 points
The student’s
response
demonstrates
partial command
of language
usage and
conventions.
The student’s
response
demonstrates weak
command of
language usage
and conventions.
-The student’s
response has many
errors that affect the
overall meaning, or
-Uses verbs in
passive and active -Uses verbs in
passive and
voice, the
active voice
conditional and
subjunctive mood
-Uses incorrect
verbs in passive
and active voice
-The response is too
brief to determine a
score, or
-Uses clear and
complete sentence
structure, with
appropriate verb
voice and mood
-The student copies
-Has fragments, runso much text from the
ons, and/or other
passages that there is
sentence structure
not sufficient original
errors
work to be scored.
The student’s
response
demonstrates full
command of
language usage
and conventions.
-Uses clear and
complete
sentence
structure
5 points
-Has no errors in
usage and
conventions that
interfere with
meaning
Overall Score
Level 4
93 or more
-Has minor
errors in usage
and conventions
with no
significant effect
on meaning
-Has frequent
errors in usage and
conventions that
interfere with
meaning
Level 3
80 or more
Level 2
70 or more
Level 1
0 or more

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