Team:Shanghai Metro HS/Human Practices


Integrated Human Practice
Experts’Opinions on Domestic Livestock Breeding Industry and Silage
Interview with Prof. Xin Wang, Henan University of Technology (Ph.D, Chinese Academy of Sciences),
To have a fundamental understanding of the Chinese domestic livestock breeding industry, we interviewed Prof. Xin Wang, who specializes in optimizing agricultural product technology. Prof. Wang obtained his Ph.D degree from the Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
From Prof. Wang's responses, we know that since the reform and opening up, the livestock breeding industry has always been an important mode of production in China. Compared with the planting industry, the livestock breeding industry has a short production cycle and a high average income, accounting for more than half of China's total agricultural production. According to current data, China's livestock net output value reached 1.3 trillion yuan in 2005, occupying 33% to 34% of the total agricultural output value. In the following decades, the average annual growth rate of the output value of the livestock breeding industry in China is about 14%. The growth is relatively rapid. Affected by terrain and climate, the livestock breeding industry in different regions of China has significant disparities. The livestock breeding industry in northwest China is more developed, accounting for 40% to 50% of the national total.
Prof. Wang points out that the Chinese feed development has potential problems. In this condition, biotechnology is essential for the transition of this industry. For example, China was a country that incinerated a large amount of agricultural waste many years ago. About 800 million tons of agricultural waste was sent for processing every year, but only 30% of those waste was utilized to feed livestock. At the same time, because the straw contains a large number of bacteria, burying the straw would pollute the land in large areas. To solve this problem, scientists have adopted biotechnology to treat agricultural wastes and turn straws into alcohol. On the one hand, it greatly improves the utilization rate of agricultural waste. On the other hand, it effectively reduces the pollution caused by wasted straw. Therefore, our project, which optimizes and improves silage from the biotechnology perspective, is a research direction worth recognition and support.
As an important livestock category, ruminants play an important role in people's diet and animal husbandry. And the supply and demand of feed for different livestock are quite different. According to Prof. Wang, the original feeding mode in China could not be changed in a short period of time, because main crops for feeding will be easily affected by terrain and climate. However, we can still enrich the diversity of feed and improve its quality by broadening the feed sources or importing high-quality feed from overseas.
Looking at the advantages of silage, it may gradually become the main source of feed in China soon. Nevertheless, Prof. Wang still put forward many uncertain factors. For example, the lack of a unified evaluation standard of raw materials will cause instability of silage quality. Furthermore, harvest time, storage time, and pretreatment will also affect its quality. Moreover, research in the laboratory may cause problems when scaled up for practical use. And research has found that the acidity of silage may affect young livestock, and alkaline additives (baking soda, etc.) need to be added for neutralization.
Our project is to improve the utilization rate of silage. In our research, the cellulase produced by the PKC-001 strain is extracted and then transformed to possible engineered bacteria, the products of which will be used as an additive for silage to increase the ruminant's acquisition rate of monosaccharides in this type of feed, thereby improving the quality of husbandry products.
Prof. Wang fully affirmed our projects and research in the interview because similar experiments precede the engineered bacteria industry. Furthermore, Prof. Wang added that we could obtain monosaccharides through additives to help prevent diarrhea and help Ruminants absorb most of the feed. This has great guiding significance for our follow-up experiments.
Through the communication with Prof. Wang Xin, we learned about the current situation of animal husbandry as the subject's background. We got some guidance on the direction of experiments and follow-up research. The most important thing is the affirmation and support of the Prof., Wang which makes us more determined—gained confidence in the subject.
Is our project safe, especially future products?
Interview with Dr. Qingzhuo Wang, Postdoc Researcher at Nanjing Normal University
As we interviewed on the street, we learned that the general public still has concerns about the safety of feed additives. We haven't considered this aspect before. After discovering this problem during the offline research, we interviewed Dr. Wang Qingzhuo, an expert in synthetic biology. Dr. Wang graduated from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and has a deep understanding of the use and risks of engineered bacteria.
Dr. Wang said he understood the "lack of public acceptance of engineering bacteria" and that China currently has no standard control plan or specific policy for the use of engineered bacteria in livestock in. He also noted that China has had a standard list of probiotics for human use for the last 20 years and has kept it up to date. Dr. Wang said that expressing an enzyme in a safe chassis cell would not cause side effects in widespread use. Nonetheless, the gradual standardization of the market is still necessary. Medicines for human use are well regulated in the market, including NMPA (National Medical Products Administration) review and multi-phase clinical trials; Veterinary drugs can now apply for clinical trials. Dr. Wang believes that the standardization of livestock engineering bacteria is also an irresistible trend.
Although many feed products are sold under probiotics, Dr. Wang believes many of them are not included in engineering bacteria. This is because current research does not go far enough, and there is no obvious evidence to show the potential risk of engineering bacteria. However, meat, milk, and a range of by-products from animals that use these feed additives can still be sold because there is no clear policy requirement or prohibition in the markets. Strictly speaking, Dr. Wang said, regardless of the safety of microorganisms in previous studies, the safety of products that are eventually added to feed and indirectly consumed by humans still needs to be verified.
In consideration of the current market environment, Dr. Wang believes that our product cannot be verified and marketed in the short term because there are already similar products on sale. None of them have been proven harmful or not in the long term. Also, Dr. Wang argues that technology usually outpaces current policies. The launch of these products always precedes the introduction of policies. Genetically modified plants is a good case in point. Transgenic plants have significant changes in many characteristics, but some may have potential risks for human consumers. Thus, long-term verification are needed. Unlike antibiotics, which are subject to strict regulation, consumers have no clear policy on engineered bacteria or probiotics, so they are not specifically told when buying meat with the additives.
Finally, Dr. Wang suggested that our products could be improved by feeding the engineered bacteria to animals as a reagent rather than adding them to feed. Since digestive enzymes are proteins, using reagents is safer than feeding live microbes directly to animals.
Dr. Wang's answer is of great guiding significance for the further development of our project. He answered the questions related to the safety of the engineered bacteria and put forward constructive suggestions for our subsequent experiments and product output. We will also consider Dr. Wang's suggestions in the subsequent experiments.
Key Points Worth Thinking in Commercialization of our Project
Interview with Xiuxuan (Atlas) Zheng, Business Development Expert, Consultant at Orient Securities
To help our team later in the product business plan and commercial promotion, we interviewed Atlas Zheng, who specializes in business promotion consulting. Mr. Zheng is a current consultant of Orient Securities, who has lots of experience in business promotion and business planning.
From Atlas Zheng's responses, we know that our team should study two types of audience groups for market research, namely, farmers and ordinary followers. The farmer's groups are fixed, and their channels of attention are different from those of regular followers. According to the clustering effect, feed factories, farmers, and other professionals who usually buy feed would pay more attention to industry associations. Since industrialized and semi-industrialized modes dominate the Chinese market, the livestock breeding industry is not scattered like past. There are upstream and downstream industrial companies, such as farms and slaughterhouses, the feed may generally be fixed-point marketing.
Atlas Zheng suggests that our focus should be on the upstream of the industry chain. In addition, our products have industry barriers. Industry associations are perfect entry points because they influence the local region. Through them, the publicity effect will be better.
Atlas Zheng says that if our product stands out in this market, there are three key points:
(1) The effect of our products need to be better than other products in the market so that we can attract more consumers in professional fields
(2) The problem of price and cost is also crucial.
(3) Our products should be outstanding in a specific field. For example, our product has a unique effect on cattle, and its production capacity is unmatched by other products. Therefore, we need to control it very strictly. In addition, we also need to digitalize our product sales, how good the effect is, how much the overall cost is reduced, and so on, which are all reflected in the data.
Ordinary consumers like high technology, but for traditional agriculture, high technology means increased cost. We need to dispel doubts in this regard. This requires the scientific research team of our team to find out the optimal solution for the production of new silage additives through continuous experiments.
Atlas Zheng also said that our proposal needs more improvements to attract investors. The business plan is the core of an enterprise, and its primary function is to clarify the product and explain the financial potential. From the point of view of products, we need to accurately identify users' needs and innovate, which is also crucial for an enterprise. We strengthen the overview of the silage industry and the problems that our products can solve. Constantly ask yourself questions and trigger thinking to create better products.
For the commercial basis, we need to estimate the size of the market, the proportion of silage in the feed market. We should predict the market share and analyze the competitors, their strengths, weaknesses, performance, and cost performance. To win in this smokeless war, we must take all of them into account. And position our products. Our silage additives are being developed and piloted as soon as possible, and in the medium term, we will increase awareness, improve products, and derive from other directions. Finally, our long-term goal is to expand the market scale and product category territory.
Atlas Zheng's advice is efficient for us. He gave us professional guidance on the general direction before writing the business plan, which effectively avoided some possible problems and gave us a more concrete understanding of business promotion, which benefited us a lot. Taking his suggestions into consideration, we have made a business plan, For details, please kindly visit
How do our potential client consider about our project?-Online visit to Qianjin Pastoral
Through public research and interviews with biology experts, we better understand the audience and functions of our products. For example, to gain a deeper understanding of what potential customers think of our products, we interviewed Wang Fang, a staff in the Qianjin pastoral industry (The biggest pastoral company in northwestern China), who specializes in nutrition and has a certain understanding of the company's needs and expectations.
According to her words, they are currently using silage corn and silage alfalfa. Only the silage starter necessary for silage processes is used in terms of additives, and there is no great demand for additives for other functions. Wang Fang mentioned a lactobacillus inoculation agent, an additive that can reduce the harmful flora produced a few days before silage fermentation. But this additive is not the type of our product, nor is it competitive with us.
On the price side, Wang mentioned that they would make their silage because of the high demand rather than buy from suppliers. This is mainly because that lots of nutrition is lost due to the secondary fermentation during transport, and making it themselves would be much cheaper. On this basis, we put forward the hypothesis of providing both feed sources and additives, and the concern was that the source of the feed needs to be within 100 km distance to ensure the freshness of the feed, and she pointed out that there was no precedent for the use of other additives at present. According to Wang, the addition of adjuvant digestive additives is not an option until the feed itself is of poor quality. In the case of large farms such as her unit, they prefer to use products proven to be effective in the market to save costs and are not very willing to do so in a small range of new products.
If our products have been proven to be mature and practical, they will be more willing to purchase our products. If our project has the opportunity to continue, it will only be a matter of time for the product to enter the market.
Wang also stated that they only purchase cost-effective products, and she corrected our previous false assumption that when absorption efficiency is increased, the feed used can be reduced accordingly. So, even if they use our products to improve cellulose uptake in silage, they will feed as much as they can for higher yields. So, our products only exist here as a colorant, not just as they need to.
All in all, it seems that customers tend to turn away from our products as there is no large-scale success story. However, as with any new technology, we can start the experiment on a small scale. After long-term experiments to produce big data, we believe our technology will enter the market with cutting-edge technology and do good for the world.
Will our Project be Really Valuable?Interview with Prof. Tian Final Expert Interview, Dr. Jinzhong Tian, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
We were a little frustrated by the previous online visit to Qianjin Pastoral since the staff there did not fully support our idea. Thus, to further clarify the development status of biotechnology and to further determine the necessity of our research (because the interview with the breeding plant made us a bit shaken), we interviewed Prof. Tian Jinzhong, a doctoral researcher at the Prof. Tian believes that the future of our products is particularly prosperous. In China, everyone hopes to improve the quality of life and enhance the utilization rate of feed. Therefore, such kind of degradation of cellulose into monosaccharides is an outstanding practice.
Now there are many applications of synthetic biology in the animal husbandry industry: from the manufacture of feed to the output of products, to the treatment of manure, and microorganisms are added to enhance the utilization rate of feed. Nevertheless, other products are somewhat different from our products. We artificially add engineered bacteria, yet nowadays, the bacteria that do not use modified or are widely applied. Our transformation is to enhance the utilization rate of feed, which is relatively innovative in the current market. Industrial use will take into account the cost and effect. Thus, the selected bacteria are generally chosen instead of the industrially modified bacteria because they are only concerned about the outcome. If the impact of our products will be better after engineering transformation, then the prospects are very impressive.
We mentioned to Prof. Tian that even if the staff in the breeding plant used additives, they still need to feed the same amount of feed. Prof. Tian thinks that the team has its reference standards and has a prescribed amount of feed. Nevertheless, perhaps because we did not explain clearly, that is to say, cattle will absorb and assimilate more after eating feed with additives. In theory, the amount of feed ought to be decreased, yet if the amount of feed is kept constant, the feeding cycle will change: shorter (because it will grow faster) or better meat quality. We should clarify the basic principles more clearly to the staff or technicians, or there will be misunderstandings.
Prof. Tian said that the industry standards for animal husbandry now are far from clear, and standards for such products will soon appear in recent years. However, since the standard is used in animal husbandry, it does not matter as long as it is not fed to livestock with pathogens or disease-causing genes.
From another aspect, there will be some fungi in foods such as yogurt, which will boost the nutritional value of the food and convert into cash because its addition will have a greater promotion on the quality of the product. Studies in recent years have found that the health of the human body has a great bearing on the flora in the body. Meanwhile, the health of cattle and sheep in the livestock industry has a great bearing on the microorganisms. Bacteria can help them degrade food, increase nutrient absorption rate, and affect development, immunity, and other aspects. But the quality of these effects will take time to verify. And since our products change only the unilateral food utilization rate, we also need to consider some of the impact of bacteria on the whole. In general, there will be tremendous potential in the future, given the current research direction.
The staff of the breeding plant said that the need to feed the same amount of feed would deal a blow to us, yet at that time, the feeding time was not taken into consideration. Only the absorption of nutrients was considered. Prof. Tian injected us with confidence to continue the project from a macro perspective, which benefited us greatly.
Public Concerns
Street Interview
To learn about the people’s understanding of silage and acceptance of our feed additives, we went to CHAMTIME in two groups to do the offline survey; our schoolmates online also collected answers from their separate ways. Our team designed a public-oriented questionnaire. It first asked questions about their knowledge of silage, what disadvantages they found in the silage they knew, whether they have learned about relevant solutions in the market, and what merits and demerits these solutions had. If the respondents never touched this topic before, we would ask them some peripheral questions, like did they paid attention to the price and quality of beef and mutton in the market and whether they found the prices acceptable, and the frequency of having beef or mutton every week, would they support our products if we add additives to the silage.
Our questionnaire is as follows:
The first group of people surveyed (34 people in total)
Characteristics: medium income: 4K-10k yuan per month, living with a basic guarantee, roughly aged 25-41.
Location: Shanghai, South China
Diet: home cooking (chicken, duck and pork mainly)
Their care for the prices of beef and mutton can be divided into two main types. The first is the group of people with considerable income, who are not quite sensitive to the prices of beef and mutton. The second is the group of people with average income, who tend to find the market prices rather expensive and that the cheap meat is synthetic.
These people have beef and mutton about 2-3 times every week. For those with higher living standards and income, however, the frequency could be once a day or 5-6 times a week. Of course, purchase of beef and mutton is related to income.
These people usually have beef or mutton in restaurants.
Therefore, we conclude that people do not care much about the prices of beef and mutton. The reasons are as follows: 1. these people show less demand for and less spending on beef and mutton; 2. these people usually shop for groceries by ordering takeout instead of going to the market, therefore not sensitive to the prices of beef and mutton.
A common concern is the negative impact of these products. Since they are high-tech products not that easy to understand for the people, they tend to categorize them into other hazardous products: white feathered chicken and catalysts.
The survey has shown us a new direction and helped us renew our understanding of the products. We also find the following problems in the survey:
1. Will larger quantity lead to lower price?
2. How long does it take to verify these products?
3. Will they, as a new type of additives, affect human health?
In the future, we will design team activities targeting these problems.
As a result, we again contacted and interviewed Dr. Wang Qingzhuo, Wang Fang, a worker at the farm, and Prof. Tian Jinzhong, the postdoctoral fellow of CAS Key Laboratory of Synthetic Biology, who raised our questions and received their complete answers. According to Dr. Wang, our products cannot be verified and go on the market in a short time; product release is always ahead of the introduction of the policy, for which there could be a potential risk, making a long-term demonstration necessary. Later, Prof. Tian also pointed out the close relationship between human health and the bacterial flora in the body and the relationship between cattle and sheep and these microbes. Bacteria help them digest food, improve nutrient uptake, and influence growth, immune, and other aspects. Whether such effects are good or bad is to be verified in time. He also indicated that theoretically, the amount of feed should be reduced; if it remained unchanged, the feeding cycle would be shorter (for fast growth), or the meat texture better.
We’ve collected valuable information from street interviews and online expert interviews, which will significantly help our subsequent research.
Online Survey
To understand to which extent the price of beef and mutton (dominate ruminant) affects people’s lives in China and how to feed professionals evaluate our program and its future, our team designed two questions in a questionnaire and forwarded them to various websites. To distinguish two groups of people and make sure that each person can find a suitable questionnaire, we used question two-re you familiar with animal feed to find out people’s jobs and give them the right set of questions.
From the first question, we discover that most of the people who filled out the questionnaire were under 18 years old and 18-30, and 82.03% of them are not familiar with animal feed or silage.
Within this group of people, about 53% of them like eating beef and mutton in their life and 21.19% of them like beef and mutton very much. From these answers, we know that many people consume beef and mutton in their daily meal. For another question, over 90% of people believe that the fluctuation of animal feed price will affect meat price. According to this fact, the change of beef and mutton price will affect their lives. Ordinary people are also aware of the correspondence between feed price and meat price, which gives us a chance to advocate the effectiveness of our product. However, half of this group of people feel hesitant when asked whether they will buy meat if this farm uses feed with bioengineered additive(our product). Our group will seek to convince them that our product will not harm human health.
For those who are familiar with animal feed, 50% of them knows silage, and 86% of this group of people believe that silage is better than normal animal feed. Since most of them claims feed cost has been problem in their work, our product is very attractive for them. Over 80% of professionals would like to buy our product if it works. With these valuable data, our group understand the need and problem in current animal breeding market and the advantage of our product, which are of significance in next stage of research.
Second Questionnaire
In the previous questionnaire, some of the questions we mentioned were not very helpful to our subject. The fillers indicated that there were too many professional questions they could not answer. So based on this questionnaire, we improved the content and logical order of the questions based on the results we wanted.
This questionnaire is mainly aimed at the vast number of consumers on meat products and beef and mutton products’ quality, variety, and price preferences. The main participants in the questionnaire were between 16 and 35 years old. Of all meat-eaters, 97.64 percent said they ate beef and mutton, and 90.32 percent said they required the quality of beef and mutton. This means that our products can improve the quality of beef and mutton and are in line with the preferences of the majority of the population.
In terms of the frequency of beef and mutton consumption, most said they eat 1 to 3 times a week, some people said they eat every day, a small number of people said they eat every meal. So this means that our products that apply to the beef and mutton products market have a specific market size.
Most people are not very sensitive to the price of beef and mutton—they will not change the purchase amount according to the price increase or decrease. However, a considerable number of people said that they are sensitive to the price of beef and mutton, which means their desire to consume will change a lot due to price changes. In other words, if our products can effectively reduce the cost of feed and thus reduce the price of meat products, the farmers who purchase our products will occupy more markets. This implication also instilled us with confidence and motivation to continue our project.