Working on synthetic biology in a lab is amazing, but sharing our enthusiasms can be even more wonderful. For the science education, we worked with people from all walks of life including teenagers, citizens, freshmen and XMU students.
Teenagers had the opportunities to extract DNA from bananas while learning about its structure and how it was produced inside cells. Through the extraction process, we described the purpose of each step, and invited them to consider the chemical and biological theory principles behind what they were doing. Both their parents and teachers encouraged us to hold more activities like this in order to helping teenagers to put theory into practice. Now, there were no subjects referring to Synthetic Biology, however, most of students consequently found it interesting and considered it was important to life.
As a result, we decided to put our efforts to spread the word about synthetic biology to the next generation of scientists.
In order to popularize knowledge of domestic water to young people and promote the importance of water quality testing, we elaborately organized the practice activity in the Xiamen Science and Technology Museum. We designed the water quality detection relating small games and quizzes to popularize the knowledge to young people.
Finally, we found that young people lack of common sense of life water knowledge while it was actually very necessary to water saving and protecting.
Fighting for Mooncake is a traditional activity spent with relatives or close friends in Xiamen area in order to celebrate the Mid- Autumn Festival. Throughout the game, we advertised the iGEM to freshmen, and introduced our project this year. It was worth mentioning that we also collected solicited opinions from all the students about the feasibility of treatment by biological method for water pollution. 667% of participants shows positive attitudes towards bio-method, with the common sense of effects caused by microorganism are easier to handle than chemical hazarders. Beside, only 3.7% students thought two dealing way were equal.Whole results statistics
We organized the First Synthetic Biology Debate in XMU in the October 21st. XMU the College of Humanities debating team (Negative side) as well as the College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering college debating team (Affirmative side) argued about if the disadvantages of artificial transformation of life to human development outweigh the advantages. As this event was faced to whole range of students, it greatly promoted the synthetic biology to public sense.
Affirmative side: pros outweigh cons
Negative side: cons outweigh pros
During the opening statement, the first speaker of positive side said: "First of all, from the social benefit, application of genetic engineering in agriculture and medicine has greatly eased the problem of hunger and drug parts shortages. From the point of view of economic benefits, the new industry developed by genetic engineering will bring huge profits. According to incomplete statistics, in Europe and the United States, the number of genetic engineering drugs on the market have already risen to almost one hundred, there are about more than more than 300 kinds of drugs in clinical trials, about 2000 in research and development, forming a huge high-tech industry, producing immeasurable economic benefits. Consequently, human society's attitudes towards the unknow genetic engineering is prudent, and will not take an irresponsible attitude of ignoring the potential risks, therefore, many concerns should not become the main human society problems to stop gene level on the grounds. In summary, the artificial transformation of life to human development outweigh its disadvantages."
While the first debater of negative side claimed that: "The standard that we judge if the artificial transformation to human life development is valued is weather the artificial transformation of life could promote human health safety progress. Our debating will discuss the influences morally and security. Firstly, the risk of artificial lifeform has higher risks and uncertain income. Secondly, the transgenic technology will aggravate social inequities, which is more likely to have genetic discrimination among human beings. Finally, we would like to ask a question, as the same as other creatures natured by earth, who gave us the rights to change life structure liberally? Artificial transformation created "supernatural" life, or accelerated the process of natural evolution, did we respect our life? And the natural?"
Later, at free debate stage, the positive side hold the point that transgenic technology can increase grain yield, can alleviate the current difficulties, can benefit to social effect and economic. Of course the risk cannot be denied, but all those side effects can be charged under laws and regulations. At the same time, the opposite side refuse it by taking about it haven't boosted crop yields widely. Beside, gene contamination has occurred and has not been resolved, and the risks of environment and human body cannot be avoided in a short time.
Eventually, during closing statement, both sides gave their conclusions about this debate. As we all know, there are still no accurate result according to genetic modified technology. Some people think that they are totally obey the rule of natural and moral, while others may believe that GMO will bring us a better life condition. What we could do is to take the drawbacks to a controllable minimum.
Xiamen University, Fujian, China
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