Team:Paris Bettencourt/Safety



To make sure our project was fully ethical and implemented in a fully ethical way, we decided to consult with people who work in science and ethics.

We paid a visit to the DG research and Innovation in the EU in Brussels, Belgium where we met with a member on the ethical board, Dr. Joana Namorado. She walked us through the current EU laws set in place about ethical science and what to consider when designing our project to make sure it was safe. Finally she helped us use the Ethics self-assessment guide for the Horizon 2020 Programme set forth by the EU, which we used as a framework to create an ethical and safe design of our project.

Horizon 2020 ethical assessment

What is horizon 2020?
Horizon 2020 is the 8th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development within the EU, a funding programme that defines the direction of current research within the EU area. It puts the focus on sustainable innovation.

What is the Horizon 2020 ethical assessment?
A large focus is put on the ethics of any project funded by the EU and thus, guidelines were specified on how to construct as assess the ethical aspects of a research project. The horizon 2020 ethical assessment is composed of 11 main sections, which apply in different levels to the various fields of current research:
  1. Human embryos and fetuses
  2. Human Beings
  3. Human cells and tissues
  4. Personal data
  5. Animals
  6. Non- EU countries
  7. Environment, Safety and Health
  8. Dual Use
  9. Exclusive focus on Civil applications
  10. Potential Misuse of research results
  11. Other ethical issues

As we did not work with animal or human samples or subjects, sections 1 ,2 ,3 and 5 were not applicable to our project. Furthermore, all of our research was conducted in France, so section 6 was not applicable either.


We focused on the parts that pertained to our project:

Personal data

We made sure our data collection from questionnaires, interviews, phone calls and video recordings were taken with full consent and were kept on a secure domain. This data will not be transferred and does not contain any personal data (sensitive or otherwise).

Environment, Health and Safety

  • All of our team members were trained to work safely in the lab and taught about how to handle hazardous material, minimise transfer of genetic material and contamination and understand safety procedures.
  • We designed our prototype to limit contamination.
  • We designed our bacteria to have a safety kill-switch, based on a cell lysis part from bacteriophage.
  • We considered the precautionary principle in relation to our project, and found that there was no adequate safety risk that should prevent us from undertaking the project.

Dual Use

We identified all of the potential dual uses of our materials and control tools and propose that proper vigilance be taken to ensure that our tools are not used for any dual use purposes. However, we also postulate that the technology is not currently the most convenient (cheapest,easiest )for all the dual use applications we identified, therefore we believe that our technologies are not of primary concern for the issues we identified.

Exclusive focus on Civil Applications

Our project focusses solely on Civil Applications, and have no military affiliations or funding.

Potential misuse of Research results

Although we did not design our project to be harmful in any way to the general public, we were made aware that the wide scope of applications means that our technology can be applied in a variety of fields, through our human practices where we talked to both community biologists and academic scientists.

Other Ethics issues


Read our report to see our full assessment

iGEM safety

We also complied with also iGEM safety requirements including working only with white-listed organisms, maintaining safe practices in the lab and not using any hazardous biobrick parts. We also filled out all of our safety forms.

Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI)
Faculty of Medicine Cochin Port-Royal, South wing, 2nd floor
Paris Descartes University
24, rue du Faubourg Saint Jacques
75014 Paris, France