"Genetically Modified Food" Student Writing Lesson

Do genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your food concern you?

Crop dusting in Mississippi. Photo by Roger Smith

The YES! Magazine article "A Month Without Monsanto," by April Dávila, is a story about the potential health effects of genetically modified foods, and April Dávila's need to learn where her food came from.

Students will use April Dávila's story to write about what matters most to them in the food they eat.

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YES! Article and Writing Prompt

Read article: "A Month Without Monsanto" by April Dávila.

Writing Prompt: April Dávila discovered that around 70 percent of processed foods on American supermarket shelves contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Does this concern you? What matters most to you about the food you eat?


Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

  • Provide an original essay title
  • Reference the article
  • Limit the essay to no more than 700 words
  • Pay attention to grammar and organization
  • Be original, provide personal examples and insights.
  • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W.9-10.3 and W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI.9-10 and RI.9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. "9-10" is used as an example.

Evaluation Rubric


Sample Essays 

The essays below were selected as winners for the Spring 2013 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students' writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.


Living Organic by Sharon Lin, Grade 8

Read Sharon's essay about how April Dávila inspired Sharon to adopt an organic vegan diet, and the increased energy and self-confidence she felt as a result.


GM Civil War: The Superfood Registration Act by Erica Young, Grade 12
Read Erica's creative essay about how foods, like superheroes, should proudly display their logos to disclose their identities.


 GMOs: A Right to Know by Ryan Barry, University of Vermont

Read Ryan's essay about his concerns surrounding the health effects of GMOs, and his recommendation to follow the European Union's lead and adopt the precautionary principle.


 The Problem with GMOs by Russell Chiang, 

Read Russell's essay about how GMOs may harm one's body, and how monopolizing companies can harm the economy.


 Response from author April Dávila to student essay winners, encouraging them to stay curious, be willing to change their minds, and above all, keep writing.


We Want to Hear From You!

How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Share with us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students.

Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.