Revision as of 13:17, 7 September 2012 by Jparrish (Talk | contribs)

Public safety

During our project discussions and our presentations it became clear that the close proximity of the meat and bacteria was easily accepted by the public. That is why we decided to take extra care in designing the indication sticker. We made absolutely sure there was no possibility that our Bacillus or its spores were able to come into contact with the environment or the preserved meat, possibly endangering the public and environment.

We consulted specialized companies to participate and contribute in our project using their knowledge of materials. As a result, TPX® Polymethylpentene was used for the sticker's outer membrane. It was strong polymer with nanopores. These nanopores ensured no bacteria will came into contact with the meat, but still allowed the volatiles to reach the bacteria. This material is approved by FDA-standards and EU-food-standards.

Not only does the sticker design ensure the safety of the public, but also the nutrient composition as well. Bacillus subtilis should only germinate and grow when the sticker is still intact. However, even if our Bacillus is exposed to an environment that is favorable for growth, the genetic modified insert is not harmful for human, animal or environment. Furthermore, the strain used in our final product is considered a food-grade strain. More on the safety aspect of the GMO is found in the environmental safety page.
With proper use of the Food Warden system none of the B. subtilis cells are released. So there is no danger for the public.

Public perception

For a better perception of the public view on our project we asked the science shop of our university for advice. The University of Groningen actively seeks cooperation with citizens, governments and business. The goal is to deploy academic expertise for the benefit of nonprofit groups and organizations which represent a public interest and to contribute to practice based education, social engagement and the acquisition of communication skills by students. Five different science shops are linked to the RUG, one for each of the major faculties. All cover a different aspect of science namely: Beta, culture, language & communication, business and economy, Education, medicine and healthcare. We chose to contact the beta science shop as they cover the field of life science.

First, they suggested we contact the voedsel en waren authoriteit (translation to English; Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) of the Dutch government.

Second, they pointed out that we must formulate a development plan if we want to make Food Warden a product for the public. A thorough and detailed description of product development and usage is important for public perception, initially for the consumer. GMOs are not easily accepted by the public, so we need to show that the product is safe and beneficial to society.

We are in the process of making a market-research section on our wiki page in which we will ask the public to give us their opinion about the Food Warden. The research should provide insight into the question about acceptance of GMOs for household use, the desirability of the Food Warden system, and the effect of such a product on prevention of food spoilage.

We believe that our product has an ethical foundation: The prevention of food spoilage. With the use of synthetic biology we provide an innovative way to prevent the waste of food. We also want help change the public opinion on GMO and show that this field of science can be beneficial for society. In times of rising food cost and famine we hope that we can make a small contribution in the effort to solve these problems worldwide.