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State Super Tony Evers Visits West Salem High School to Check Out Senior Exit Projects

05/12/2016 11:26 am

By Nathan Hansen, La Crosse Tribune

WEST SALEM -- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers listened intently Wednesday afternoon as Alex Galbraith spoke about her work studying the impact of genetically modified foods on humans.

Galbraith isn’t a medical researcher or a university professor. Instead, she was one of more than 120 West Salem High School students sharing the results of their senior exit projects to panels of community judges.

The school added the exit project program 16 years ago as a graduation requirement. Students pick a topic of interest to do both a project and a research paper on, and, at the end of the year, give a presentation on their work.

“There is all this conversation in the teaching community over seeing what our kids know,” West Salem teacher Kim Volden said. “These projects test the skills kids need after graduation.”

Galbraith spent her senior year studying whether the DNA from a GMO soybean plant could be detected in human colon cells. With a mentor from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and the use of some of its lab equipment, she conducted a detailed experiment to extract the plant’s DNA and simulate its exposure to the digestive track using colon cancer cells, which can be grown outside of the body.

Her research didn’t find any traces of the soybean DNA in the colon cancer cells, which she argued was evidence against one of the fears of those who are wary of GMO foods. For her research paper, she wrote in favor of labeling foods containing GMO ingredients.

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“Consumers have a right to know how their food affects themselves, the environment and the economy,” she said during her presentation.

After listening to the science presentations, Evers stopped at the school’s auto shop and heard a presentation from student Jared Novak, who wrote his paper about the benefits of diesel engines in large vehicles and completed a restoration project on an old pickup truck.

Read the rest of the story here. See news coverage on WXOW and WKBT.

                                                               Photo by Peter Thompson, La Crosse Tribune


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