Methods & Materials
Methods for this ethical survey are not as elaborately described as the laboratory methods. The used methods and materials were used in two approaches: describing the ethical considerations in synthetic biology and iGEM specifically on a more general, macro level; describing ethical considerations within the TU Delft iGEM team on a micro level.
Several articles, readers, reports, fact sheets, websites, etc. were used to create a road map of the ethical considerations in synthetic biology. The used literature can be found in the Ethics Reference section.
The macro ethical survey resulted in a road map, which depicts the major ethical considerations in synthetic biology. This road map was used to develop a survey, by which the ethical questions and ideas the TU Delft team members and their supervisors have, were logged. For the design of the used questionnaire, help was obtained from the Biotechnology & Society working group of the TU Delft Biotechnology department, and from Huib de Vriend of LIS Consult.
Restrictions - The qualitative analysis of ethical considerations as perceived by team members and supervisors will not generate statistically reliable numbers on general group opinion. That is not how these surveys are to be understood: it is just meant to analyse which issues are recognized by the team members and how these influence their work.
The used questionnaire can be found below. Questions were not always asked in the same way or in the same order. Effort was put in making sure not to integrate the interviewer's opinion in the questions themselves, to make sure not to influence the answers. The outcome of the questionnaire cannot be found on the website for reasons of anonymity.
1.1 - Why do you participate in iGEM?
1.2 - What were your personal requirements in advance?
2: Project goals
2.1 - Introduce Labwork, modeling and ethics as a goal
2.1.1 - What will be your major contribution/competency in Labwork in the goals as proposed in the project summary?
2.1.2 - What will be your major contribution/competency in Modeling in the goals as proposed in the project summary?
2.1.3 - What will be your major contribution/competency in Ethics in the goals as proposed in the project summary?
2.4 - What do you personally wish to achieve, additionally?
3.1 - What does SB mean to you, scientifically?
3.2 - What do you think the main difference between SB en ME?
3.3 - What do you think the main additional innovative value of SB is?
Constructing and deconstructing topics in synthetic biology. What about iGEM?
3.1.1 - Does this correlate with your view of SB?
3.2.1 - Does this change your opinion on the difference between SB and ME? --> if so: how?
3.3.1 - What do you think the main additional innovative value of SB is after this definition?
4: Open source values
4.1 - Open source technology setting in iGEM
4.2.1 - What do you think open source science implicates for technological novelty, usefulness of eventual products and commercialization of products?
220.127.116.11 - Have you experienced (any kind of) drawbacks due to regulation or legislation in this project at any point?
4.3.1 - Have you looked at patents in the area of application you are thinking of?
18.104.22.168 - if YES: Which patents have you found? If NO: look at these patents. Anywah: do you think we should consider this further?
4.3.2 - Should we keep commercialization of our application in mind already? Why Yes/No?
4.4 - E.g. commercial research (DSM, Organon): contribution to technology?
5: Project values
5.1 - Introduce value transparency
5.1.1 - How important do you judge transparency
5.2 - Introduce value sustainability
5.2.1 - How important do you judge sustainability?
5.3 - Introduce value safety
5.3.1 - Value: later rest
5.4 - Introduce value security
5.4.1 - Value: later rest
5.5 - Introduce value choice and what it would mean
5.5.1 - How important do you judge freedom of choice? Can you imagine people refusing this project? Based on what?
5.6 - How useful do you judge the application?
5.6.1 - Do you see good or better alternatives to the application?
6.1 - Which technologies (scientifically speaking) do you think are most important for SB?
6.2 - Introduce risks in synthetic biology, without mentioning them
6.2.2 - What do you see as "risks", generally in synthetic biology, NOT specifically in our application!
22.214.171.124 - Safety (currently)
126.96.36.199 - Deliberate release
188.8.131.52 - Deliberate misuse
6.3 - Information on ethical considerations
6.3.1 - Which ethical issues do you think should be considered?
184.108.40.206 - Are there ethical considerations that may form motivations or constraints in your point of view?
6.4.1 - Which risks should scientists focus on?
6.4.2 - Which risks should ethicists focus on?
6.5 - Should commercialization have a focus in design? Why, Y/N?
7.1 - What are your ideas on transgenics in this project?
7.1.1 - Can you imagine people experiencing problems with transgenetics?
220.127.116.11 - Which problems and why?
7.1.2 - What would your mother think of the topic?
7.2 - How does transgenetics relate to your idea of: Religion, Culture, Choice?
7.2.1 - Which of these topics do you think will become important in the future?
7.3 - Information on impact of SB, future of fossil fuels, biobased economy
7.3.1 - Which influences, both positive and negative, do you foresee on society in the future?
7.3.2 - Which influences, both positive and negative, do you foresee on ecnomy in the future?
7.3.3 - Which influences, both positive and negative, do you foresee on environment in the future?
7.3.4 - Which influences, both positive and negative, do you foresee on human health in the future?
7.4 - Where do you think the boundaries of GE should be?
7.5 - Where do you think the boundary is between a machine and a living organism?
7.5.1 - How important is the autonomy/essence of different organisms to you?
8.1 - What do you think misuse in synthetic biology actually means?
8.2 - Have you experienced constraints in design or work because of (regulation) (ethics) risks?
8.3 - Which errors with severe effects may/can be expected in synthetic biology, specifically in our application?
8.4 - Consider our application: which deliberate misuses can you imagine?
8.4.1/8.3.1 - Introduce regulative framework, engineering
18.104.22.168 - Who should be responsible for the safety of the application we've developed?
22.214.171.124 - Who should decide if it's safe?
9: Your role as researcher
9.1a - What is your idea on science communication? Where do you have responsibilities?
9.1.1 - What do you think your responsibilities are towards science & scientific community?
9.1.2 - What do you think your responsibilities are towards your direct supervisors?
9.1.3 - What do you think your responsibilities are towards society?
9.1.4 - What do you think your responsibilities are towards the public?
9.2 - What would your mother say/expect on these responsibilities?
9.3 - On which topics do you think your answers may be biased because of your academic background?
10: Participation B
10.1 - Are there issues that have been brought up in this session that should perhaps have received more consideration in the project design?
10.2 - Have issues been brought up that you had not considered earlier?
10.3.1 - Would you consider to work on easier topics sooner than on uncertain, perhaps more innovative or potentially innovative applications?
10.3.2 - Were decisions made in design (after brainstorming), that you do not agree with or are not happy with afterwards?
10.3.3 - How do you feel your input is appreciated by the group?
Below, some relevant terms in synthetic biology and how they are used in this website, will be described.