Team:TecMonterrey GDA/Engagement

Education & Public Engagement

The history of our team is quite interesting. We didn't start with iGEM, but at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP13-MOP8-MOP2). On december 2016, we had the opportunity to attend this event as youth delegates of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI), which, in collaboration with the ISAAA delegation, decided to take an international group of young science students to introduce us to how biotechnology and synthetic biology regulations take place. We sure learned a lot about biodiversity, as well as The Cartagena and Nagoya protocols and their implementation in our countries. However, reality kicked in and turns out that despite all the advantages we can get from this tool, there is a widespread negative perspective on synthetic biology, mainly from activist groups but also from country representatives. Sadly, the problem didn't end there: there was also a big lack of participation from the scientific community and the young people regarding the regulation processes that were taking place. We sat at the real United Nations negotiations and even witnessed the proposal of a moratorium to Synthetic Biology!!!

Considering this situation a problem, with possible negative consequences for the development of emerging technologies, something had to be done. We came back to our homes, inspired, conscious of the importance of effective science communication, and with the conviction to do something to make a change. It was then when we decided to create Youth Biotech, an international association that focuses on science communication, science regulation and science development. Today it's got members from more that 15 different countries who look forward to take the movement to their respective countries. Under the science development track we founded the PHAgave project and we have been carrying out our public engagement activities through this platform since then.

To take science out of the lab and make an impact in our community, we’ve been focusing on hosting and participating in activities and events that share and explain the real implications of the emerging technologies, especially synthetic biology, as well as the importance on developing critical thinking.

UN Biodiversity Conference

December 2016

During the COP13, we had the opportunity to talk to delegates, learn from their perspectives, the positions of their countries and share with them what we knew about Synthetic Biology and the advantages of the implementation of these technologies. We even got to share our concerns with Mexico’s Environment Minister.

The Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) delegation hosted a side event, in which some of the PHAgave team instructors and advisors explained their previous iGEM projects. We also got the chance to share our thoughts in an article written by one of the team members. It was reviewed by Dr Mahaletchumy Arujanan, major science communicator, and published by the Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre in the Petri Dish, Malaysia’s first science newspaper.

We can say that this experience totally shaped the way we see ourselves as biotechnologists. It made us realize the importance of stepping out of the labs and taking part in decision making, because what people are deciding today will affect our future.





References:

Hernández, M (2016) ¿Qué necesita México para detonar el desarrollo científico y tecnológico? The Huffington post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.mx/2016/11/15/que-necesita-mexico-para-detonar-el-desarrollo-cientifico-y-tec_a_21606630/



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