Igem Tec 2016


Human Practices

Science is not only about laboratory work or projects, but also context in social, geographical and global aspects. Synthetic Biology as a multidisciplinary science gathers different persons, scientists, and individuals. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the circumstances at which every scientific project is developed, having in mind the responsibility that it carries.

The implications of Synthetic Biology (hereinafter also referred to as SB) have repercussions from the Ethical, Economical and Legal perspectives. Our team analyzed said perspectives with a focus on the Latin-American dimension, for the diffusion of SB in the light of a responsible progress.

On the 18th of October we held an event at the facilities of our college called “Café Con Ciencia: Myxobacteria as biological control method for phytopathogenic fungi in crops”. This day we were finally able to expose to our mates, families, professors, alumni and public in general what we have been doing for the last ten months. It was a very special moment because as a team we realized that everything was coming to an end plus it was useful as we received some feedback from our mentors and PhDs to improve our presentation in Boston.

The ethical approach focuses on the openness issue: the paradigms of exclusivity and attributions, its relation to the intellectual property (IP) system; the democratic and modular nature of SB; advancement and its implications concerning security.

Key Concepts

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From an Economic point of view, we discuss some of the effects that SB could cause, mainly in the context of developing economies and agriculture. SB could tend to increase the risk of displacement of individuals employed in the agricultural sector. Some of the Latin American economies could be at risk of being affected by the advancements of SB.

The Legal analysis focuses on the persistent need for an effective regulation of SB at international, regional and local level. The main legal aspects concerning SB regard the application of the IPR system, the effects of the possible application of contractual provisions as an alternative to IPR, and the issues concerning safety and security.

The diffusion of SB is an important element of Human Practices. We applied it firstly by contacting local farmers and stakeholders from the agricultural sector in order to learn about their positions, targeting their main necessities, as well as knowing how would our project be perceived.

Synthetic Biology: A look through the Lens of Latin America

The second part of diffusion in our project is a document where you can see on detail the analysis made by our team in the Ethical, Economical and Legal aspects of Synthetic Biology in Latin America. We analyzed the above mentioned problems, in order to propose possible solutions that aim to be incorporated at regulamentary level. Our guidelines can be employed by companies, associations and governments to develop provisions regulating quality, management of bioparts, safety, as well as reconcile the main economic, ethical and legal issues surrounding SB.

You can see our Guidelines by clicking on the following button: