(3) Does everyone need to agree?

From 2011.igem.org

Team: British Columbia - 2011.igem.org

Does everyone need to agree?

When Dr. Joerg Bohlmann described the pine beetle problem to our team, he emphasized that this did not just have consequences for the environment, but also the economies and communities dependent on the forests and lumber industry. So if scientists invent a synthetic organism that could potentially fix this problem, we need to inform and consult with stakeholders in this issue.

The priority is to inform others about our strategy and receive their input. One of the most effective ways is involving the community in our project right from the start rather than waiting until we have the solution in hand. In this way, informed public opinion can guide the development of synthetic biology tools. The public will also be much better prepared when these tools are ready to be implemented. The human practices pillar of iGEM was established to engage the public through outreach and discussion of synthetic biology safety, security, ethics and ownership. Outstanding human practices projects incorporate public and expert opinion into their projects and produce innovations that are suitable for use by their target audience.

“Human practices has been a hugely important influence in the design of our final product. We contacted a number of experts very early on in the design process to allow us to truly adapt our specifications to meet the requirements of a field testing kit for parasites. This has ensured that our design is as feasible and useful as possible.” – Imperial College of London iGEM 2010, Winners of the Best Human Practices Advance

We can only make what people want when we know what people want. And when we make what people want, they are more likely to agree with our project.

So perhaps this section should have been titled “How do we help everyone agree?”

(1) Will synthetic organisms ever be released into the open?

(2) What extent of pre‐emptive measures is required before this can happen?

Our short discourse "Synthetic Biology in the Open: Pipe dream or the next giant leap for mankind?" can be downloaded or found on this CommunityBricks page.