Team:WHU-China/Human Practice


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GMOs and food safety
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have become the focus of public attention for several years. Along with the flourish of biotechnology, there are more and more GMOs available for people. However, the disputes around this issue never subside. This year, since our project is strongly associated with GMOs or genetically modified food, we believed that people’s perception on GM food is essential to understand the prospect of modified bacterial product.
Therefore, we decided to conduct a cross-sectional study in order to figure out to what extend people would accept consume GMO and bacterial product. Prior to the cross-sectional study, we think a pilot study is necessary, because no one in our team has the experience of doing survey in social science either did we get previous data as reference.
In the questionnaire, we designed two parts to investigate whether people hold negative attitude toward GMO and bacterial product. Considering consuming bacteria seems undesirable to people, we set a example of yogurt at the middle of the questionnaire to see if people can accept eating bacteria after thinking existing product available to everyone today.
In the pilot study, we handed out *** questionnaires, and excluded ** uncompleted ones. In the 199 samples we collected, sex and major were evenly distributed in the library where we handed out the questionnaire. However, students in high grade tended to study at library, while first and second-year students may choose to participate in social activities and face less pressure on entering graduate school. Therefore, we tried to adjust this uneven distribution by grade, to see whether there was significant difference for people’s attitude among different grades. As it turns out, there was no difference between different grades.
Another problem emerged in this pilot is that our questionnaire was a little difficult for students to follow, meanly because of many choice-oriented questions. Many participants gave us advices on doing survey and designing questionnaire which contributed a lot to our final cross-sectional study.
Before the cross-sectional study, we refined our strategy and questionnaire:
Change some instructions in questionnaire to arrows at the end of each option, which orient them to the next question they are supposed to answer.
Change some open questions to close question making it easier for us to count.

Introducing iGEM and synthetic biology to the public
In order to familiarize people, meanly college students with synthetic biology and iGEM, we joined the Wuhan Science Festival, and presented simply modified bacteria to give the public a brief impression on biotechnology.

Inserted with RFP, colonies in plates presented a red color that inspired pedestrians and they are curious about why bacteria can emit fluorescence. We explained to them basic molecular biology methods and the difference between molecular biology and synthetic biology, which is aiming at constructing functional organisms based on standardized bio-parts. Our efforts may end to a more correct and truer image of biology, rather than counting birds outdoor and recognizing different plants.

Besides, we introduced to students about our project this year. Induced by an epic background, the characters of our project were three bacteria fighting against fatty acids, glucose and death. Based on the story, we talked with students about the purpose and how we can achieve the goal. The public in Wuhan were not very familiar with biotechnology and the use of biotechnology. Apart from what we did in lab, going out to meet people is as the same importance as results under UV light in iGEM.

As for iGEM, we introduced to audience this competition regarding its history, its goals and participation in China. As a top-ranking university in China, we think that students of Wuhan University are supposed to know more about academic events. It not only smoothes our project but also encourages more students with ideas to participate in international competition. Furthermore, we hope that more students in Wuhan would pay more attention to competitions in biology as well as College of Life Science of Wuhan University. We believe our effort will benefit subsequent candidates in the long run, and help them get more funding easier.