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the notebook

Action to the Public
We, team Todai-Tokyo makes synthetic biology known to Japanse people who do not quite understand biology.

Genetic engineering is tightly connected to our daily lives, through food and medical industry. However, genetic engineering is not well known among Japanese, As you can see. (a survey of whether they have know about genetic engineering.)

Todai-Tokyo conducted a survey; we asked 121 people who do not know well about genetic engineering and 45 people with knowledge of it, "Are you reluctant to eat GM food?" The following graphs are the result.
(left: people who do not have enough knowledge of genetic engineering
right: people with knowledge of genetic engineering)

People who lack knowledge tend to dislike GM food, according to these results. People seem to feel anxiety and disgust towards newly created organisms, even though breeding and genetic engineering has only slight differences. We concluded that the repulsion toward GM food derives from the lack of knowledge of genetic engineering. Therefore we decided to disperse the knowlege of genetic engineering.

Todai-Tokyo contribute deepening thier understanding by the following activities. We opened a Japanese website that explains the basics of synthetic biology and the answers to the most frequent asked questions about genetic engineering, in an easy-to-understand format. In addition, through our humorous Tobacco project, we drew attentions of people toward genetic engineering.
Through such activities we successfully enlightened the general public for synthetic biology and hopefully reduce fear towards genetic engineering.

on safety (BREAD)
One of our project is to make some bread by a newly synthesized yeast. So, this project has a problem of the public safety.
we answered some questions in the iGEM judging form.we show the questions and answers below.

Q1.Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of: researchers safety, public safety, or environmental safety?

  • researcher safety, environmental safety -> Our experiments (and maybe experiments of all the iGEM team) require P2 level containment.
  • public safety -> In bread project, we make GM bakers' yeast.

Q2.Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
  • Environmental Science Center:
          surveillance of industrial wastes, chemicals,
  • Office of Life Science Research Ethics and Safety:
          (web page is only for researchers and students the University of Tokyo) They publish guidelines concerned to biological research and safety and supervise research groups.

Q3.What does your local biosafety group think about your project?
Concerning experimental procedures themselves, it raises no problems as we are doing our experiments according to the guidelines of these committees. However, as we are to make GM bakers' yeast, we have to consider governmental laws and regulations.
To make our GM yeast to serve as public use, we must confirm the following
  • the vector used to sub-clone the gene and the marker used to select the GM yeast is well described.
  • the yeast does not make toxic agents, nor raise acute or chronic toxicity or allergy.

Q4.Do any of the new BioBrick parts that you made this year raise any safety issues?
Yes. We submitted a part of the Bread project. If the part is used to make GM food, like our project, it would raise public safety issues.

Q. If yes, did you document these issues in the Registry?
on safety (TOBACCO)
We had a questionnaire that asked the participants what they thought of our "TOBACCO project".>>the result the participants are the students and graduates of the University of Tokyo".The answers of the questionnarie are wrriten in Japanese, so we can't list all here. However, we show you here some answers and the brief result that are very interesting and thought-provoking.
Explanation to The Public
General people seems to feel alarm or repulsive at the materials and the living things. These are created at hidden places or with way that people can not understand.By the way, we have been breeding plants and animals in a farming industry since early times. And, a lot of farmed goods that we eat daily are under breed improvement. The basic method used for synthetic biology is actually much the same as the breed improvement. The basic method used for synthetic biology is actually much the same as the breed improvement. The different point between these things is that we create target materials more rapidly by using DNA recombination than breeding.