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Safety Q&A:
Our answers to the questions posed at are as follows

Safety Q&A

Our answers to the questions posed at are as follows:

1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of researcher safety, public safety, or environmental safety?
As long as we conduct experiments following the safety manual of mentioned below (and of course we do follow) and obey the laws on biotechnology when conducting our experiments in a laboratory, we think our ideas raise no safety problems.
Our safety manual is the the safety manual of the School of Engineering [1]. This is internal access only. So, if needed, please see the safety manual of the School of Science [2], which is similar to that of the School of Engineering.
However, our final aim is to apply our project to actual garbage disposal. The E.coli we use must not be leaked to the environment because they are genetically modified organisms, which originally didn't exist in nature and so the impact on the eco-system by letting them in the wild is unknown and out of management. Besides, the synthesized H2 gas needs to be separated from E.coli because, for example, it will be a problem if E.coli are mixed with a fuel cell using H2. This issue will be settled by using gas permeation membranes. Next, the way to deal with the waste that has used up its glucose, should be incineration. In case they are left for a long time, the possibility of undergoing mutation of E.coli becomes stronger and it is not clear what the mutated E.coli will do. (Even if we burn the waste at this step, the energy efficiency is higher than that to burn the waste before the the bacteria work on it, for ample energy is retreived.)
2. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?
The E.coli that were introduced the parts containing fhlA has more risk than Wild-Type E.coli because it will produce more H2, a flammable gas, than Wild-Type (depending on the environment).
However, the speed of H2 synthesis was mild in our experiment and in prior research, so we think culturing them in LB for short periods of time does not raise a safety issue. The other parts are non-hazardous because they will lead only to fluorescent protein expression or will not be translated.
3. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
Yes. We work at Noji laboratory, School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo.
There are
  • Health and Safety Office
    • Committee on Genetically Modified Organisms and Microbes for Research
    • Research Ethics Committee
in the School of Engineering, and there is
  • Office for Life Science Research Ethics and Safety [3]
in the University of Tokyo.
4. Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?
If there are more strictly defined rules and evaluations for safety, we believe they will raise the safety level of this competition and be useful in an educational and academic sense.

Safety Q&A
to answer the questions on the safety page.