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Scientists have created genetically modified (GM) eggs that contain drugs used to alleviate some cancers and arthritis. They are 100 times cheaper to manufacture than the same drugs produced in factories.  

Animal activists do not have to worry as they are treated very well and have been described as “pampered” by Dr Lissa Herron, of Roslin Technologies in Edinburgh. Herron spoke further about their living conditions, “They live in very large pens. They are fed and watered and looked after on a daily basis by highly trained technicians, and live quite a comfortable life.” She continued with, “As far as the chicken knows, it’s just laying a normal egg. It doesn’t affect its health in any way, it’s just chugging away, laying eggs as normal.” The sheds that these chickens are kept in are part of the reason this method is so cost-effective. These sheds are significantly cheaper to build and run than producing the same drugs in factories.

Often, diseases are caused by the body not producing enough of a certain protein. The drugs to help with these diseases usually contain that deficient protein. Manufacturing these drugs can be extremely expensive. Dr Herron and her colleagues have made the process more cost-effective by inserting a human gene into a part of the chicken’s DNA. The inserted gene is one that normally produces the protein in humans. It is put into the chicken DNA that normally creates the white in chicken eggs.

Three of these eggs are enough for one dose of medicine and chickens can lay up to 300 eggs a year. With enough chickens, scientists believe they could produce commercial quantities. However, creating a new drug is a long process with many regulatory hoops to jump through and could take 10-20 years before these eggs are available to the public.

The scientists also hope to create eggs that benefit animal health. These eggs would boost the immune system and replace antibiotics when raising farm animals. This alternative would help with the impending risk of antibiotic resistance.

This is not the first time scientists have genetically modified eggs. Scientists have also created GM eggs to reduce the number of male chicks that are hatched. Male chickens are not generally used and are often killed 2 days after hatching because they are not economically viable. Reducing the chance of them hatching makes the process cheaper, greener for the earth and is obviously much more humane to the male chicks.

Difficult words

Genetically modified (GM): Genes that have been changed.

Alleviate: To make less.

Pampered: Given lots of comfort and attention.

Chugging: To continue or go along with what you are doing.

Deficient: Not enough of something.

Commercial: To be used by or produced for the public to make a profit.

Hoops to jump through: To have to go through many obstacles.

Antibiotic: Medicine that fights microorganisms.

Resistance: The act of rejecting or refusing something.

Viable: Capable of working or doing something.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: 

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Genetically Modified (GM) A. Diminish
2. Alleviate B. Continue
3. Pampered C. Feasible
4. Chugging D. Reject
5. Deficient E.  Obstacles
6. Commercial F. Gene Editing
7. Hoops to Jump Through G. Business
8. Resistance H. Spoiled
9. Viable I.  Lacking

True or False?

1. Scientists have created eggs that will reduce obesity. T / F

2. The eggs are more expensive than manufacturing the medicine in factories. T / F

3.  The chickens have very comfortable lives.T / F

4. The chickens know they are laying different eggs. T / F

5. Diseases usually are caused by a lack of proteins. T / F

6.  The human gene was inserted into the chicken DNA that makes egg yolks. T / F

7. One egg is one dose of medicine. T / F

8. Creating a new drug can take many years. T / F

9. The scientists said these eggs would be dangerous to use on animals. T / F

10. This is the first time scientists have genetically modified eggs. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. drugs / eggs / have / created / Scientists / genetically modified (GM) / that / contain

2. worry / to / activists / do / not / Animal / have

3. a / far / as / As / just / chicken / the / normal / knows, / it’s / egg / laying

4. medicine / of / are / Three / one / of / for / these / enough / eggs / dose

5. not / are / used / Male / chickens / generally

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: 

American English: 

hatching manufacture impending
regulatory colleagues dose
treated inserted comfortable

Scientists have created genetically modified (GM) eggs that contain drugs used to alleviate some cancers and arthritis. They are 100 times cheaper to _________________ than the same drugs produced in factories.

Animal activists do not have to worry as they are ______________ very well and have been described as “pampered” by Br Lissa Herron, of Roslin Technologies in Edinburgh. Herron spoke further about their living conditions, “They live in very large pens. They are fed and watered and looked after on a daily basis by highly trained technicians, and live quite a _______________ life.” She continued with, “As far as the chicken knows, it’s just laying a normal egg. It doesn’t affect its health in any way, it’s just chugging away, laying eggs as normal.” The sheds that these chickens are kept in are part of the reason this method is so cost-effective. These sheds are significantly cheaper to build and run than producing the same drugs in factories.

Often, diseases are caused by the body not producing enough of a certain protein. The drugs to help with these diseases usually contain that deficient protein. Manufacturing these drugs can be extremely expensive. Dr Herron and her _____________ have made the process more cost-effective by inserting a human gene into a part of the chicken’s DNA. The ______________ gene is one that normally produces the protein in humans. It is put into the chicken DNA that normally creates the white in chicken eggs.

Three of these eggs are enough for one __________ of medicine and chickens can lay up to 300 eggs a year. With enough chickens, scientists believe they could produce commercial quantities. However, creating a new drug is a long process with many ______________ hoops to jump through and could take 10-20 years before these eggs are available to the public.

The scientists also hope to create eggs that benefit animal health. These eggs would boost the immune system and replace antibiotics when raising farm animals. This alternative would help with the _________________ risk of antibiotic resistance.

This is not the first time scientists have genetically modified eggs. Scientists have also created GM eggs to reduce the number of male chicks that are hatched. Male chickens are not generally used and are often killed 2 days after hatching because they are not economically viable. Reducing the chance of them _______________ makes the process cheaper, greener for the earth and is obviously much more humane to the male chicks.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3.  What do you think about the GM eggs?
4. How would you feel about taking medication through eggs?
5. Do you think there are any negatives to these eggs?
6. Do you think it’s okay to create genetically modified food?
7. Would you be willing to eat genetically modified eggs if it meant no male chicks died?
8. Is there a different food you would rather take medication through?
9. What do you know about genetic engineering?
10. What do you think about genetically engineering new human organs to replace yours when you become old?
11. What do you think about people being able to genetically modify babies before they are born?
12. Should genetic engineering be used to rid the world of certain diseases and conditions?
13. What do you think about cloning?
14. What can cloning be useful for?
15. What do you think about people who clone their pets?
16. Would you ever want to clone any person or animal?
17. What do you think about cloning in order to harvest organs or other parts of the body?
18. What do you think about meat grown in labs to replace cow beef?
19. Does it make sense for vegetarians to eat this?
20. Is it worth it to continue creating medicine in factories for vegans even though it’s more expensive?