Our human practice work involves several questions relating to biosafety, social justice and public acceptance. Our aSTARice is actually a genetically-modified organism, so our work focuses on people's concern about GMO.
First of all, we should make sure that we ourselves have a correct understanding on this question. For this reason, we took part in lectures about transgenic.
The first lecture was given by Kou Jianping, who is a director of the department of "Genetically modified organisms safety management and intellectual property office" from "Department of Science, Technology and Education" in MOA (Minstry of Agriculture) of China, and Lin Min, who is a director of institute of biotechnology of CAAS (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences). In this lecture, we got to know that transgenic foods selling in market are absolutely safe, because they were tested by associated departments and labs for many years in scientific way. However, up to now, there're only a few kinds of transgenic products have gotten permission into the Chinese market. After the lecture, we communicated with these scientists about new technologies on transgenic research.
Apart from that, we've also took part in a talk given by Wu Yongning, who is the director of "Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk Assessment, Ministry of Health", which belongs to China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA). In this talk, we obtained a lot of information in analysing GMO.
As we are working to create a new kind of crop, we think we should also know more about agriculture, so we joined in The Sixth Asian Conference on Precision Agriculture as voulnteers.
2. Innovative and venture talk
As most undergraduate students are having no idea about how to do a biological project, we made a talk on innovative and venture talk held in our college. We gave a speech about our two projects and ways to do biological research, such as how to get papers from some databases and how to get in touch with professors. Our talk attracted more than 300 students, most of them are impressed by our fantastic ideas.
We hoped our human practice work can influence more ordinary people. So, above all, we should realize other people's opinions on transgenic food. Because of that, we made a questionnaire about GMO.
The data we've obtained in questionnaire is showing below:
The respondents' proportion of men and women is approximately balanced. The age level mainly locates between 18 and 25. What's more, the respondents have a Bachelor degree or a higher degree.
The main content
Question 4: Do you know what is genetically modified (gm)?
Analysis of the Q4: 4/5 of the respondents have a certain understanding for "GM technology", 1/5 respondents don't understand this technology or even don't know about it. This suggests that the "GM technology" is received by the majority of respondents.
Question 6: Will you eat gm food?
Analysis: About a third of the people can accept genetically modified (gm) food. 17% people determine not to eat genetically modified food. All of these suggesting that the public acceptance of genetically modified foods is raising.
Question 11: Is transgenosis beneficial or harmful in your opinion?
Analysis: Most people have a skeptical attitude to genetically modified (gm). For respondents, genetically modified (gm) is an emerging technology. The public don't understand thoroughly enough about the gm, so they cannot hold a certain attitude to it. We should strengthen the propaganda of genetically modified (gm), and let the public know more about the specific meaning and connotation.
Question 12: Will you use gm products(non-food)?
Question 13: Have you ever heard of skin care products that contain astaxanthin?
Question 14: Will you choose a skin care product or a health foodstuff that contains astaxanthin (gm)?
If new genetically modified foods were put into market, about half of people can fully accept. While the acceptance of gm products(non-food) is even higher. However, our people do not know much about astaxanthin product at present, so we should enlarge the propaganda. Our astaxanthin product will have a larger market if it's a skin care product.
According to the data we've got from investigation, we can see that most people are holding a neutral opinion on development of GMO, so it's possible that we can help them to learn more about transgenic and dispel their qualm, thus making more people accept GMO products. So as to reach this aim, we designed a series of interesting activities.
5. Spreading knowledge to our society
5.1 Writing GMO handbook
After participating in several lectures and talks, we learnt a lot. Later we wrote a handbook about GMO as a summary, which contains our answers to many questions about GMO. We can use this as educational material. The list below is the content of our handbook.
the chapters of popular science
1.What do you eat
1. Brief introduction to genetically modified food that you eat
2. A reasonable concern----glyphosate
3. Better gm products
2.Pathological obsession----Opposition to genetically modified
1. 'They' want to confuse you
2. The preliminary victory----Papaya
3. Organic food is not more secure
4. Being hated humanitarian projects----Golden rice
the chapters of Genetically modified knowledge
1.Basic knowledge of genetically modified
1.What is genetically modified
2.What is the relationship between genetic and biological traits
3.What is a genetically modified technology and products
2.The characteristics of the genetically modified technology
1.What is the commonly used genetically modified(gm) technology
2.What similarities and differences between transgenic technology and the traditional breeding
3.What are genetically modified (gm) technology applications
3.The development of genetically modified
1.How is genetically modified to produce and develop
2.What are genetically modified research direction in the global
3.What is the matter of the industrialization of the genetically modified organisms
4.The present situation of genetically modified technology development
the chapters of safety regulation
1.Genetically modified product safety
1.What are the aspects that genetically modified product safety involves
2.What is the argument about genetically modified product safety
3.How to evaluate the safety of genetically modified products
4.Can we detect genetically modified ingredients
5.What are genetically modified organisms test methods
2.Genetically modified regulatory policy
1. How to regulate genetically modified (gm) technology and its products
the chapters of Team SCAU-China
1.What is iGEM
2.Who is team SCAU-China
3.What is the project of SCAU-China
2.Team SCAU-China's project results----Astaxanthin rice
1.Introduction of technical principles
5.2 Bauhinia Festival on Science and Culture
In South China Agricultural University (SCAU), Bauhinia Festival on Science, Technology and Culture is a grand activity every year. On the festival, tens of thousands of citizens in Guangzhou gather together in SCAU to enjoy the sight of bauhinia and new research progress in our university. This year, we seized this opportunity and showed interesting biology to hundreds of visitors, mostly are the youth and kids. We showed fluorescent protein, microscope and tissue culture technology. These attracted a lot of citizens. In the meantime, we brought some books and brochures about some laws and interesting things about GMO. For example, sweet potato has some DNA parts which originally came from Agrobacterium, which means that transgenic exists in the natural world.
To attract more people to visit our stall, we also made some beautiful postcards about SCAU or iGEM.
Our work finally turned out to be a great success. The most famous newspaper in our city--Guangzhou Daily interviewed our team leader and reported us with a brief introduction of our project and activity. SCAU newspaper and SCAU official WeChat also reported us.
We even invited visitors to taste our genetically modified papayas. All papayas selling in markets are GMO, and they've been commercialized for many years. Through this activity, we want to convey a message that GM crops are not devils, if we utilize transgenic technology in a reasonable way, they can be soft and sweet like papaya!
5.3 Laboratory open day
As many of freshmen in our college are eager to learn more about labs and biological research, we, our lab, took the charge of laboratory open day for freshmen. We led our freshmen to visit our lab, letted them knew functions of different equipments and showed our team video and posters. For many students, it's their first time to visit an advanced biological lab, so many of them were strongly impressed by our well managed lab.
Several months later, a group of high school students from many famous middle schools in Guangzhou came to visit our university. Our college decided to open our lab for visiting, and we took charge of this open day again. We tried our best to make this open day a success activity, for the reason that many of those young high school students might be impressed by this experience and make their decision to work in science and engineering in the future.
Our education including two parts:"Spreading scientific knowledge to countrysides" and "Giving courses for high school students".
6.1 Spread scientific knowledge to countrysides
Social justice is an important question that we are concerning about. As we all known, China is a developing country and those people in countrysides can hardly get as much information and knowledge as those in cities. So after we did the education work in several high schools in Guangzhou, we decided to do the best we can to spread our knowledge to farmers and students in countrysides. We had sent our educational handbooks to farmers and schools in countrysides such as Qingyuan, Shaoguan, Maoming and Zhaoqing, which are located in Guangdong Province.
The first thing we've done is sending handbooks about modern agriculture to farmers in these remote places. The handbook contains a lot of information about modern methods of cultivating the local specialty crops, including protocol of cultivating watermelon and pitaya fruit in modern way. It's possible that we can help some people in countrysides who is eager to get more information on agriculture, and they might generally accept modern agriculture or even genetically modified crops.
Now that we need to use our knowledge to help people in countrysides, we think we'd better offer lessons for next generation, so our teammates have joined teams who are going to give courses in primary schools in countrysides and mainly worked in sending basic and interesting biology lessons. Those kids are very fond of us and maybe our lessons will actually influence their life and utilize the new knowledge to change their fate.
6.2 Giving courses for high school students
We also gave courses for high school students from Guangzhou NO.47 Middle School, Guangdong experimental High School and Guangdong Guangya High School. Our courses mainly focus on the advance research in biology these years, especially in synthentic biology. We've also introduced iGEM to them and showed them how to take part in iGEM as a high school student. After that, we also built up a good relationship with a high school group from Guangdong experimental High School and Guangdong Guangya High School.
According to the feedback from our students, they have a better understanding of biology after our lessons. It's quite a good experience to communicate with middle school students and to teach them what we've obtained in taking iGEM competition and doing biological research.
7. Exhibitions at university's hackerspace
According to investigation, it seems that people are not very willing to use astaxanthin. So we participated in several exhibitions at university's heckerspace and showed our posters about astaxanthin and aSTARice. These exhibitions had attracted the attention of the whole society, even some officials from native government attended.