Team:Ionis Paris/Survey

G.M.Os & Pollution

Use of G.M.Os as an air pollution detection system

G.M.Os (genetically modified organisms) are more and more present in our society due to the high yield they provide, being in the medical field, in pharmaceutics or in food industry. Though they are facing hard polemics, with the lack of knowledge on how the presence of G.M.Os in our close environment can impact our health. Indeed, several studies have shown both positive and negative influence of G.M.Os, and that can only contribute to the blur around such organisms and what we can accomplish with them.

In order to have a better idea of the perception of G.M.Os by the public in the context of the Quantifly project, the team developed an opinion survey about G.M.Os and their use in the air pollution issue. We fortunately had the opportunity to spread this survey to international citizens, thanks to the iGEM competition and the international convention organised by the iGEM IONIS team in Paris.

Figure 1: Pie charts showing the age, knowledge in biology and knowledge of G.M.Os by our sample.
Figure 2: Estimated application fields of G.M.Os.

Figure 3: Presence of risks with the use of G.M.Os (Blue: Yes, Red: No).
Figure 4: Evaluation f the quality of the information about G.M.Os available (Left: sufficiency, Middle: accessibility, Right: trustability).

Most of the responses we got (see Figure 1) are teaching us that in our population sample, the age is mainly between 18 and 25 years old, but we also have people more aged with an insightful point of view. The population has good knowledge of biology and is well aware of what G.M.Os represent.

First of all we wanted to assess the sample population general knowledge about G.M.Os and their opinion about the information on them. We thus established several questions to learn more about their level of information and the accessibility of this information in different media. We also tried to evaluate the trust given to the information.

As we can see in Figure 2, the main application of G.M.Os is thought to be in agronomy and food industry fields, while the medical and pharmaceutical fields are less thought to use such organisms. We could deduce from this graph that G.M.Os are mostly thought to be directly related to our diet and direct interaction with the human body through meals, which can play a role in the global fear of G.M.Os (Figure 3) and the limitation of their use in said areas, to limit potential danger on the long term.

However, while being a general fear of G.M.Os (Figure 3), we cannot conclude that it is constructed on consistent information linked to those modified organisms. Indeed when asked how sufficient, accessible and trustable the information about G.M.Os was, the sample population estimated the information to be highly insufficient, inaccessible, and they seemed to estimate the few pieces of information untrustable (Figure 4).

This opinion survey was also aiming to evaluate the environment of our sample population. We established that most of it was living in a rather polluted area (Figure 5).

With such an environment, we tried to establish how much the population knows about air pollution and the methods of detection available to gather and analyse information about pollution (Figure 6). We also looked for their opinion of those detection means, in order to obtain more detailed information about the solution that Quantifly can bring on the market and thus determine its potential utility.

Figure 5: Pollution levels in the sample population's environment (1: not polluted, 5: highly polluted).
Figure 6: Evaluation of environment pollution information (Left: accessibility, Middle: adaptability, Right: trustability).

Figure 7: Opinion on the use of G.M.OS in pollution detection

We could determine that the environmental pollution information was not accessible to most of the public, which is rather a problem that can lead to misconception of ideas and concepts in this domain. With this feedback, we felt that our solution could implement a good way to transmit information to most of the people and that through our innovation, a process of popularisation and sensibilisation to pollution could be created and thus lead to a better understanding of the issues linked to that question.

The third part of our survey was dedicated to the reception of our Quantifly project, being the potential use of G.M.Os in the detection and measurement of pollution levels in urbanised areas (Figure 7).

Our survey was dedicated to the opinion of our sample population about the use of G.M.Os in an indirect interaction with the environment, and how much the information provided could be trusted by the public.

The population shows an open mind in the sense that, while having shown fear in G.M.Os for their health, they trust that genetically modified organisms can be used in pollution detection. They however think that this usage must be done in a hermetic environment and/or confined medium in order to prevent potential contamination as shown in Figure 8.

However the sample population seems very prompt to the idea of a synthetic biology based tool to detect air pollution (Figure 9), and they are entrusting the use of such device by official pollution prevention organisms to be a good alternative to the existing methods that would not allow the same level of trust in the information.

Figure 8: trust of the population in a hermetic and/or confined medium to use G.M.Os in pollution detection.
Figure 9: Evaluation of trustability G.M.Os usage by pollution detection organisms and percentage of people that would entrust such doing (Blue: entrust).