How society affects our project and how our project
affects society? Those words got stuck in Valencia UPV
team when we first read about human practices in iGEM.
Science and innovation are nothing if it does not exist
a relationship between them and people. We aimed to
create a link not only between our project and society,
but also between synthetic biology and people. Our team
also made a deep study of how HYPE-IT and its usage can
improve several factors in communities. In the
following lines it is shown a summary of what we made
for our human practices. If you want to deeply read
about any of this points, you can access the pages
through the navigation bar.
One of the first and most important issues for
scientist nowadays is the rejection of society towards
certain technologies. In the case of synthetic biology
and genetic plant breeding techniques, this afraid is
remarkable. But the important question is, why does
this happen? We conducted a survey about plant breeding
techniques, comparing CRISPR/Cas9 with transgenic and
other traditional techniques. We concluded, as
expected, that the problem relies on education and the
lack of communication from scientific community towards
non-expert people. For that reason, we decided to do
our part and begin to spread the word of synthetic
biology. We gave a workshop of genetic and synbio for
children between 10 and 12 years old in the City of
Arts and Science during the Summer School, with the
slogan “Scientists of the Future”. The sooner they
begin to understand how synbio works, the better they
can analyze and evaluate by themselves its benefits and
disadvantages. Our team did not forget about adults.
Sometimes is it just necessary to explain in a relaxed
and enjoyable way to change minds and convince people.
We gave a talk in a pub in Valencia, participating in
the initiative “Skepticals in the Pub”, about what is
synbio and what can it do for us in the future.
Our team was deeply interested on the real impact
that our project could have on society at many
different levels. The aim of HYPE-IT is to improve
accessibility for plant genome editing with
CRISPR/Cas9. But, why is this that important? Why do
local plant breeders need to access the new plant
breeding technologies? Why is important to make it easy
for them? What happens if our product begins to be
We decided to make a study of the impact of our project on society, at the environmental, economic, social and nutritional level. To do this, we provide three scenarios where HYPE-IT could be beneficial to society. We identify at what extent does HYPE-IT improve those impacts and if it might have unexpected negative effects. This will allow us to re-shape our project accordingly.
To give more support to our purpose of improving accessibility for new plant breeding techniques, we made an economic viability analysis. This analysis will provide us from feedback of how our product should be sold to reach our purpose and at the same time being able to make it sustainable. With the aim to make this analysis realistic, we talked with the main stakeholders for our project: agricultural research centers, seedbeds and farmers.
Finally, it is necessary to assess how our project
might affect health and safety in society. Regarding
plant genome editing, in the European Union there are
serious legal issues, which have not yet been solved
for CRISPR/Cas9 editing. It is unclear if EU will
approve crops modified with this editing system: the
success of HYPE-IT relies on this. A study of how our
product might damage or improve the environment by its
usage has been made, in order to know if additional
safety measures need to be taken in account. The use of
viral vectors might also be a concern of our project.
However, several containment measures can be made to