Human Practices Overview
As a team that strives to improve and learn from our mistakes, the Human Practices portion of this competition was very exciting to work on as we could better our project. Human Practices are essential for the growth of all aspects of our project and as we collected feedback, we realized how significant the information is for iGEM and the science community. In order to make the world a better place and have a lasting impact, the feedback from the people we are trying to help was a great contribution to our project.
We communicated with a variety of stakeholders and experts in the agriculture field to improve our project while determining how the studies being conducted are responsible and good for the world. The objective of our project is to genetically modify plants with CRISPR to withstand harsher climates that are brought by climate change.
Early on, we brainstormed values that we felt were important to the Guelph community, iGEM’s mission, and the stakeholders who we are trying to benefit. We established that scientific, environmental, moral, and financial aspects all contributed towards our project design, and thus were crucial in investigating. Also, we needed to understand the legality of our project as we were genetically modifying a plant and if we wanted to deliver it to another country in the future, we needed to see if this was feasible. To better understand how our project affects stakeholders and the value it holds in the community, we reached out to numerous individuals who were specialists in their fields or were going to be at the receiving end of the impact of our project.
Contacting individuals within and outside our community that represent these values and can provide us with information to better our project was our next step, after identifying our values. We contacted numerous:
Businesses that own farms
Seed manufacture companies
Experts in the economy and marketing of agriculture/seeds
Experts in policies of import/export of genetically modified plants
When contacting each stakeholder/consultant, we used an engagement letter attached with a package explaining our project. Then, once a meeting time was scheduled, we sent a consent form. Lastly, after collecting the information, we sent a survey to receive further feedback from the stakeholders.
Initial outreach to stakeholders and engagement letter
After looking into the values, the Human Practices team created an initial email and engagement letter to send out to all potential stakeholders. In this email, we included the below engagement letter that outlines all of the aspects of our project. Aside from the research team we also have an engineering department and a business team. This was crucial information for our stakeholders to know, because it emphasized all the aspects where our project could expand into. With a separate engineering team, stakeholders were made aware of our data modeling capabilities.
Alongside an engagement letter, the below email was included when outreaching to every stakeholder.
Initial consultations and consent forms
In the following weeks, we got responses from potential stakeholders that were interested in providing feedback and consultation to our team. We set up initial meetings with stakeholders on a variety of platforms including zoom, telephone calls and emails. Responses from stakeholders took anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Due to this, our team conducted meetings and consultations with stakeholders over the span of a month.
Prior to the initial meeting, our team discussed that we would like to keep a record of all the consultations that we received. As a result, we created a consent form that allowed our team to record all meetings. All stakeholders that were interested in providing us feedback signed and returned the consent form prior to the meetings.
Feedback and consultations
To better represent the feedback we collected, summaries of all of our consultations are below.