Bolivia | Excellence


Excellence in another area

“No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding”

James E. Talmage

"Club de debate Bolivia" was formed within the Bolivian team with the purpose of addressing false or wrong perceptions about science in Bolivia. We had meetings as a team and decided that our Club could fit perfectly in the criterion of Excellence in Another Area for the 2021 iGEM competition. Why do we consider we excel in debating? Because we have learned, trained and participated in tournaments both as judges and as speakers, managing to advance to the finals in the category of judges.


The first activities we had as a club were virtual classes given by two of our members who already had experience in debates. They taught 27 club members from our team. We decided to adopt the Zig-Zag Model to practice debates, which not only evaluates speakers, it also evaluates the judges.

To strengthen the critical thinking and speaking skills of our members, 16 internal debates were established with social and synthetic biology topics.

Below is a video of an internal debate with the Zig-Zag model modified, where the topic was: Should Bolivia allow the use of Genetically Modified Organisms?

Debate: Speakers

The affirmative part faces the negative counterpart How is the winning team chosen?

  • Consistent arguments and must show evidence

  • Formulation of questions that favor your arguments.

  • Master the topic.

  • Consistent conclusion.

  • Respect the format, that is, if you must defend your arguments, you cannot refute.

  • Do not speak fallacies.

Adjudication of the debate: Judges

The panel judges are evaluated by the main judge and the panel judges evaluate the panelist judge. Characteristics of a good judge:

  • Consistency in your statements when choosing a winning team.

  • Identify fallacies.

  • Evaluates that the model is followed.

As a result of the internal practices we had, we decided to participate in debate tournaments. The first tournament we participated in was Liga Nacional del Debate Peru, where our members participated as judges. With more experience, we participated at the Liga Internacional de Debate 2021, which is presented below.


In July, the Liga Internacional de Debate 2021 was organized by the Escuela Debate – Países Andinos 2021, in collaboration with other 35 organizations and our team. Members of the Bolivian team participated as speakers and reached quarterfinals. Others were panel judges and reached the final. We also had members participating as main judges who arrived at the semi-finals. The topics that were debated included: biotechnology, the genetic design of babies, genetic modification of humans and the use of genetically modified crops.

This year, the Liga Internacional de Debate 2021 brought together 192 speakers and more than 100 judges from Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Bolivia.

Here is a video of our most representative judges of the tournament.


Amiel Quino - Organizer

It has been a pleasant experience to be part of the organization of this tournament. I developed skills in argumentation and rhetoric, even more so for the context we live in. I participated in Liga Nacional de Debate Perú as a judge, but in this opportunity I was able to be an organizer and suggest synthetic biology topics.

Alejandra Guzmán - Judge (3rd place)

I have participated as a judge and speaker in debates as a Bolivian team member and independent. These roles have taught me to confront opposing ideas with arguments and evidence. This is because discussions about issues surrounding biotechnology in our country can quickly become saturated by emotions that stem from a lack of factual information or misinformation in general.

Damaris Sarmiento - Judge (semifinal)

It was a unique learning experience. Not only did I hear about the research and dedication to the argumentation by the speakers from my role as a main judge and panelist, but I also better understood the purpose of the forums. The importance of biotechnology lies at the economic, political, lifestyle, psychological levels.

Jhoseline Mixto - Speaker (queartefinal)

I participated in the tournament as a speaker, although I did not participate in any biotechnology debates. I was an audience member for some topics, such as the genetic design of babies. Despite the fact that my position was always against, the affirmative team almost managed to change my opinion because of the arguments they presented.

Consuelo Loayza - Judge

From an approach linked to my career, forums and debates are very didactic to understand and reflect on many of the topics that are not normally debated. My experience regarding these debates has been very interesting in the aspect of expression and dialectics. I have noticed that these aspects are very important to understand during the time of human development. Above all, to interpret and understand ideas is the basis for communication, and these forums have impressed me a great deal.

Lia Carrión - Judge

The exercise of presenting ideas from different perspectives, even if some of the presentations are not scientifically correct, made for an ideal discussion to analyze the arguments involved, break them down and understand the position of the other side. To have a reason is not the goal.


We also received the invitation from BIOMUN, where we will participate with the United Nations format in the area of BIOTECH.

Eight of our club members participated in the Debate Hispano, a collaboration that took place with other iGEM teams. Six of them in the role of judges and two of them as speakers. In addition, one of our members trained the eight participating teams in the Zig-Zag format. More details can be found in the collaboration link of the Bolivian team.


We want to thank Escuela de Debate – Paises Andinos 2021 for giving us the opportunity to participate in the Liga Internacional de Debate 2021, and BIOMUN for inviting us.