As part of their final year of the scientific baccalaureate, 17 and 18-year-old French students have long been using plasmids to create transgenic Escherichia coli and now that classroom exercise has been to expanded allow younger 15- and 16-year-old students to take part. That prompted an outcry from France's Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering, reports Nature News. "We believe such material should not be manipulated by students before they reach university," says CRIIGEN's Gilles-Eric Séralini. The French Association of Biology and Geology Teachers, which sells the kits, disagrees. "The bacteria are not pathogenic and are destroyed with bleach when experiments are over," says Serge Lacassie from the teacher's association.
Patrick Morgan at Discover's Discoblog adds that "Séralini and Lacassie hold fundamentally different ideas about what a classroom experience should entail. One sees practical experience as a roadblock to biological knowledge, and the other sees it as a gateway to reality, proving that more than just a classroom bacterium hangs in the balance."