Teaching Genomics in Agriculture and Food

How important is it to share real-world information related to the meaningful genomics research taking place in the agri-food sector? 

How can we drive genomic literacy and translate complex topics into lessons that resonate with both students and teachers? 

This story highlights work towards a key Ontario Genomics strategic goal – to educate and inspire students on the power and potential of genomics research and innovation in the agri-food sector. We also want to provide opportunities for students to explore a wide variety of related career paths.

Fostering Genomics Literacy in Agriculture and Food

Ontario educators are in search of factual, curriculum-linked classroom resources about food and agriculture. Students are more curious than ever before about understanding the science behind food production. Genomics, a field of science that encompasses all of a living thing’s genes (the genome) and the interaction between those genes and the environment, is a topic at the very heart of food & agriculture innovation.

Bringing genomics into classrooms, Ontario Genomics is empowering our youth and educators to understand this field and its far-reaching social, economic, and environmental impacts. 

In partnership with AgScape, the Agricultural Adaptation Council and Genome Canada, we launched a one-of-a-kind Agriculture and Food-themed Teacher’s Guide ‘An Exploration of Genomics in Agriculture and Food’. This resource brings the fast-paced world of food and agriculture innovation into Ontario classrooms. 

“We are fortunate to forge this unique and powerful partnership with AgScape and the Agricultural Adaptation Council to bring impactful, real-world scientific advancements into classrooms across Ontario,” said Dr. Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO of Ontario Genomics. “Knowledge is created throughout life and our ability to learn is nurtured in our schools. It is exciting to be creating resources to help the next generation learn how genomics and biology can impact their everyday lives. These resources will help dispel misinformation and provide people with foundational knowledge of potential of science.”

Taylor Selig, AgScape’s former Executive Director said: “The release of this Teacher’s Guide and lesson plans marks an exciting expansion of the scope of resources we’re creating for Ontario teachers. That expansion is made possible through collaborating with Ontario Genomics, Genome Canada, and the Agricultural Adaptation Council to produce a resource that combines a deep dive into an innovative science topic with learning the practical application of that science on Ontario’s Food & Agriculture sector.”

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“I showed the videos that were suggested in the lesson plan yesterday and was very impressed with them. Even better was that the kids were too!! When you hear “OMG, look at that!” and hear gasps and giggles, that’s a good sign! Best day I’ve had teaching in a long time!” – An Ontario Teacher using this resource.

In addition to the curriculum, Ontario Genomics launched an educational video series highlighting genomics research across Ontario’s agriculture and agri-Food sectors. In partnership with Farm and Food Care Ontario, the Agricultural Adaptation Council, and Genome Canada, we produced five educational videos including a 360-degree, virtual reality tour of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Dairy Research Centre in Elora showcasing a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to supporting Ontario’s dairy industry and providing customer benefit.

Dr. Christine Baes, a dairy cow researcher at the University of Guelph who participated in the project said, “Genomics, which is the study of DNA, plays a key role in scientific discovery and technology innovation. As we’ve seen throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it can also help address some of our most pressing challenges. In this video series, we explore how genomics is being used to ensure Ontario and Canada have a secure food system for generations to come while protecting our environment and constantly improving animal welfare.”

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Genomics 360:

How do we produce more food and feed more people using less land and fewer resources? Learn more about what genomics is and how Canadian scientists are using it to solve some of Canadian agriculture’s most significant challenges, such as breeding more resilient dairy cows.

Genomics 101:

Learn all about genomics: what it is and why it is so important to not only Canadian agriculture but also to world issues like climate change, food security, and animal welfare.

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Genomics and Food Security:

As the population rises, the issue of food security continues to become more prominent. Genomics and the Canadian agriculture industry are working together to ensure a more resilient food system for the population, both within Canadian borders and beyond.

Genomics and Climate Change:

Climate change is a significant issue for everyone, including farmers. Learn how genomics is helping Canadian agriculture breed more resilient plants and animals that can stand up against the effects of climate change.

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Genomics and Animal Welfare:

Animal welfare is important to all, but especially to farmers—and scientists who study genomics! Learn how genomics is helping the pork industry in Canada breed pigs that are more resilient and less susceptible to stress.

Impact Since Launch

Learn more about eight Ontario-focused, industry-academic partnership projects that are positively impacting Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sectors.






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