This year, our public engagement includes two main part, Social opinion investigation, and iGEM Tech. The first part is practiced by investigation form and the second part is about science knowledge share. Other than conveying our idea toward the public, we also received lots of responses from it, which help us to improve all aspects of our project.
Social opinion investigation
Social opinion investigation
According to the iGEM regulations of the questionnaire, we aim at local people and foreigners at the different ages and with various income to do a census, building a survey which has rare reference data. The main purpose is to strengthen the connection between products and the society, which makes the research and development direction tend to solve the real problems and makes the commodity meet the consumer's’ need relatively.
The questions are divided into three main parts. First, we look into people’s preference for aquatic products and then we look forward to understanding the reasons. With the substantial growth of aquaculture in the recent decades, are we able to make more contribution to the important section on our daily diet? The second part is to investigate the public opinions toward the organic vegetables and fruits—the questions include whether the ratio of eating vegetables on one’s diet and how much the certification can influence the consumer's’ purchase rate. The same with the growing global organic markets, do our system have the room to improve? The last category focuses on our topic, EDCs—we expect to learn people’s understanding of EDCs and whether they have the awareness of the crisis and the motivation to solve the problems.
In Taiwan, we have retrieved feedback of 46% male and 56% female, the age distribution is 20 to 60 years old, and the southern region accounts for 54%, the central for 10.3% and the northern for 33.1%. For the part of the diet, 30% of people attempt to eat more vegetable in the future; on the contrary, only 0.6%, and the rest remains fixed; and there are at least 60% of people who would like to have a healthier diet extremely desire to change their diet habits. This part of survey supports our assumption of Taiwanese people’s tendency to a healthy diet. For the aspect of organic products, 45% of people would pay attention to the certification, which enhances about 50% to 80% of consumers’ faith in the agricultural products—proves that organic products can be a great deal of attraction to consumers. Although most people consider a lot about the price, there are still 45.7% willing to buy a more expensive organic commodity, which again confirms the truth of the products’ competitiveness. For the aspect of the environment, about 98% of respondents believe the rivers have been polluted, and over 80% of people anticipate that the water quality can be improved. It shows apparently that most people care about the water resources issues. As for EDCs, 46.3% of people, who take up the most ratio, merely heard of EDCs but have an unclear concept; however, 62.3% of people believe EDCs are around us and even 24.6% think they largely exist in our environment. Most importantly, more than 80% of people hope to see the improvement.
At last, for the aquatic products, we found that 61.1% of consumers like “wild” type and the following are the three main reasons: 51.5% think it’s more delicious, 43.4 consider it fresher, and 40.4% refer it as little-polluted. Also, 97% of them regard the cultivation as a bad process, since it contains more pollution and medicament. These people also think that water condition would influence on the products, but fortunately, if water quality is improved, they would enhance 50%-100% faith. On the other hand, the rest 37.7% of them prefer cultivation aquatic products for many reasons, like no heavy metals contamination, lower prices, convenient acquirement, and less reliance on our environment and so on. These messages are critical for us to strengthen the original advantages, and there are still more investigations to carry out. As for iGEM’s cooperation with foreign countries, including iGEM WLC, iGEM IISER Mohali, iGEM IISER Mohali and iGEM UoA, they also provide dozens of survey samples which are from America, Europe, Southern Asia, Eastern Asia, and Oceania. An interesting fact is that the results of the investigation are really similar to Taiwan’s surveys; yet, to our surprise, 77.7% of people do not understand or even never heard of EDCs. The consequence is really astonishing, and it needs a further investigation (for the reasons.)
All in all, in our core beliefs, a lot of unfounded information and unverified assumption are resolved, which is helpful to enhance the credibility of our project. On GF Competition and Workshop of Ministry of Economic Affairs which we attend, the market potentials are a pretty significant element. This investigation becomes not only the effective supports for our plan but also a guide to the future.
The questionnaire is a branch of knowledge—we consider it an easy thing until we have done it and found out there are a lot of tips in it. We received some suggestions and opinions; thus, we did some revision—including the collection of respondents’ background information, such as age, religion, income, and residence and so on. We realize that the importance of these data, especially for those listing-to-be products. Because the information could be the influential factors; that is, their choice would vary based on their own recent condition. For example, questions about the reference of meats are not suitable for the specific group of people. And when we ask about the preference of meats but half of tester are Muslim, it would make the results unable to be adopted for global statics.
Another challenge is the respondents' psychological condition. A part of them attempts to guess the purpose of the investigation. Learning the purpose is not a bad thing, but sometimes it could influence the justice of the answers. For example, they might tend to choose the more beneficial answer to encourage this project—this is one of the phenomena we observed from some of the respondents’ opinions. This type of consequence takes no advantage of collecting the concise and symbolic data. On the other hand, a few of people felt anxious and got lost because of not knowing the purpose. For these people, even though realizing the intention of the questionnaire won’t change their answers when their imagination toward this questionnaire is contradicted to what they have seen, they tend not to answer, which is also bad for information collection. Therefore, how to successfully design a questionnaire with respondents’ real actions and thoughts requires detailed thinking and design.
Last, the logic of questionnaire. It involves the problems of easy-replying degree, distractor possibility, and fluency and so on. The designers often put those answers with their own anticipation in the options, and we are no exception. These options are easy to interfere the subject's judgment. For instance, the respondents sometimes only accept the half meaning of an option, but they have hesitation whether they want to choose it or not; another case is that the range of options are not that broad so that they are forced to choose “other, “but their description varies a lot, which is excessively unfavorable to data integration. Besides, the options’ setting also requires efforts. For answering the “level” questions, using numbers as data is more intuitive and easier to answer; yet, this kind of statics shows lower credibility because of everyone’s divergent definition of the same level. But designing a survey which replaces "degree option" with “descriptive options” also posts a big problem to make it completely symmetrical. For example, it takes a lot of consideration for a tester to answer “frequency” questions with the percentage. Although the logic is closely associated with the structure, we usually discovered the omissions in the very late moment, resulting in the whole survey needed to be revised. Above all is what we have learned from the experience of designing this questionnaire.
To spread the professional knowledge in our project, we post a series of EDCs background information and related technique on our Facebook Fans Page. iGEM is a highly professional competition which contains a lot of expertise. While people may confuse such proper noun and technique principle in the mechanisms, we tried to give a brief look in those subjects and make it easier to understand. The article also combined with related latest news and make it closer to life. The series includes 12 topics, Green Fluorescent Protein, nonylphenol, bisphenol A, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay(ELISA), agricultural irrigation channels, river pollutions, E. coli, gene cloning, polymerase chain reaction(PCR), bioreactor, biological sensor, and wastewater planet treatment. According to the record, 500 people in average had read our article, and the effect is significant. Moreover, several people have discussed the detail with us and we both benefit a lot!