Team:Toulouse/ethics

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       <p class="texte">Coming soon!</p>
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<h3 class="title2" style="margin-top:10px; color:#333;">Summary :</h3>
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<ul class="menuleft">
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  <li style="margin-top:25px;"><a href="#select1">Protection of the beauty</a></li>
 +
  <li><a href="#select2">Human intervention in the nature</a></li>
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  <li><a href="#select3">SubtiTree</a></li>
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</ul>
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<!--CITATION-->
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<p class="citation">
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"Knowledge without conscience is but the ruin of the soul."</br>
 +
"Science sans conscience, n'est que ruine de l'âme", François Rabelais, 16<sup>th</sup> century.
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
       <p class="texte">The ethical
 +
questioning turned out to be one of the major starting points of our project.
 +
Acting on an established environment and modifying it is by no mean trivial and
 +
our combined technical and philosophical points of view. The actual purpose of our project also leads us to undertake an
 +
ethical questioning about the role of the scientist regarding “useless” things
 +
such as the trees lining along the Canal du Midi. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="title1" id="select1">Protection of the beauty</p>
 +
<p class="title2">Is it the scientists’ role to protect beauty?
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte"> Beauty is a
 +
feeling of satisfaction and is selfless. It is more a feeling than the property
 +
of a thing, this is not a notion we can clearly understand. Indeed, we can find
 +
something beautiful even when we don’t know the purpose of the object...</p>
 +
<center>
 +
<img src="http://2014.igem.org/wiki/images/f/fa/Fontaine_Duchamp.jpg" width="400px">
 +
<p class="legend">Figure 1: Fontaine (Marcel Duchamp). Yes this is also art...</p></center>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">There is always
 +
a distinction between natural beauty and artistic beauty according to Hegel,
 +
a German philosopher. The artistic beauty is born from our mind and our
 +
spirit: it is an element of signification of the work of art whereas the
 +
natural beauty of the object is external. In a way, the Canal du Midi combines
 +
both types of beauty: a natural one regarding the Nature, the centenary plane
 +
trees but also an artistic one since the Canal was built by the human hands.
 +
Usually, science judges beauty as a superficial feature not deserving to
 +
undertake any kind of scientific efforts to maintain it. The traditional role
 +
of science is to solve global issues and to elaborate complex strategies in
 +
order to find useful solutions for everyone’s life. Once made this observation,
 +
one may wonder why synthetic biology would be used only to protect the useless
 +
beauty of a local heritage such as the trees lining the Canal du Midi.
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">
 +
This crucial
 +
interrogation leads us to consider science and synthetic biology from a
 +
different point of view. <b>What if the role of scientists was also to make
 +
people rediscovering the beauty of Nature? What if the bases of new scientific
 +
challenges resulted from a more local scale? </b>Science does not have to be it has so much to gain opening itself to these
 +
challenges. First scientifically, as research is never
 +
useless and as we never know the impact and the scope of our results.
 +
Then socially, as we could measure the deep interest raised by our
 +
project within the population and the media. Adopting a new vision of synthetic
 +
biology, we will probably make people change their mind about this innovative
 +
discipline. <br>
 +
The traditional cold objectivity of science distances itself from the society.
 +
However, scientists are also being capable of feeling the beauty, sensitive to
 +
the charm of landscapes and <b>able to understand the usefulness of
 +
"useless" trees</b>…<br>
 +
The design of a strategy to protect useless beauty may seem senseless but we
 +
believe that it is also the scientist’s duty. We have to remember that thinking
 +
is what distinguish <i>Homo sapiens</i> from other species on earth and this
 +
"thinking" feature allows us to understand the world and be conscious
 +
of our human Nature (Descartes: <i>Cogito ergo sum</i>). The art is an object
 +
of philosophical thought. Consciousness raises humans above all others living
 +
creatures. Thus, it is necessary to respect and protect art. And thus, it
 +
becomes essential to preserve the beauty of the Canal du Midi.
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title1" id="select2">Human intervention on  Nature</p>
 +
<p class="texte">Our main question is to understand the complicated relationship between man and Nature.
 +
Does mankind have the proper right to change the Nature? Is modified Nature considered as artificial?</p>
 +
<p class="title2"> Mankind & Nature</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte"> Nature deserves
 +
to be respected and loved. Mankind has always been linked to Nature as its
 +
survival depends on what comes out of the ground, the trees, the oceans… The
 +
Nature is a source of wealth for mankind. It ensures survival and development
 +
by giving men the wood, the rocks, the soil to build shelters. Being in contact
 +
with Nature can allow men to feel strong emotion, as describe by poets like
 +
Hugo and Lamartine.</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">Since the birth
 +
of humanity, man himself understood the importance of studying and mastering
 +
Nature to develop the civilization. Still today the most advanced technologies
 +
often try to mimic natural phenomena. With the development of civilization, men
 +
modified their environment, changing it for their own comfort depending on
 +
their own desire. With the increase of human activity, the natural environment
 +
is modified profundly. With industrialization, the
 +
natural environment suffered from waste discharges, oil slicks, intensive
 +
fishing (and many others...) but also the introduction of devastating species
 +
such as the pathogen,<i> Ceratocystis
 +
platani</i>. However, despite these negative aspects, men
 +
are capable of favorable actions to help the environment and fix their
 +
mistakes. The current trend is to limit the impact of human interventions on
 +
Nature, and hopefully this trend is not transient and will not vanish. A new
 +
desire is born, a wish to protect Nature and wilderness. Humanity can adhere to
 +
this position: human take advantage of the
 +
environment and the environment takes advantage of the reasoned human
 +
interventions. There is an adaptation of mankind to Nature. Moreover, humans
 +
can have empathy: people are capable of understanding emotions and cognitive
 +
states of other organisms. To respond to these feelings, humans have
 +
technological tools allowing them to fight against enemies. This is the case
 +
with our project: fighting <i>Ceratocystis
 +
platani</i>.
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">In conclusion,
 +
by destroying and hammering the Nature, we jeopardize our lives. We need
 +
Nature, we come from Nature and we depend on Nature for survival, food,
 +
discoveries and civilisation. Respecting, loving and
 +
preserving the beauty of it is also a question of
 +
survival.</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="title2">Nature and artifice
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">Talking about
 +
the Nature refers to the whole world with an exception: all the transformations
 +
made by mankind. Nature exists regardless of men and his interventions whereas
 +
artificial is everything that exists because to humans.
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">However,
 +
pretending that natural and artificial are opposite does not seem to be true.
 +
Man cannot create without the various elements provided by Nature, he then justs transform Nature. Thus we may wonder if there is a
 +
true difference between natural and artificial. The border between these two
 +
notions is not as obvious as it seems. The landscapes are shaped by the hand of
 +
man, animals are domesticated, and now bacteria are considered as cell
 +
factories. A natural reserve is artificially preserved as a result of human
 +
actions. Is there still something natural since the birth of mankind? Actually,
 +
the artifice is a slight modification of Nature and couldn’t exist by itself.
 +
The distinction between natural and artificial seems sterile and we clearly
 +
understand that these notions are inextricably linked and need each other to
 +
exist. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">In conclusion,
 +
isn't it our duty to use our unique position in the history of life and our human
 +
approach to try to replace the evolutive processes?</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title2">Back to our project</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">These
 +
inextricable links are obviously the basis of our project. We aim to
 +
artificially preserve a natural heritage shaped by Pierre Paul Riquet hundreds years ago. Fighting a
 +
naturally occurring form of life that threatens it maybe just an imitation of
 +
the natural evolution process. What is considered today as ‘non-natural’
 +
may be one day regarded differently. To the extent that everything is done not
 +
to unbalance the ecosystem, our intervention can be judged rightful, even more
 +
than the use of chemicals.</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title1" id="select3">SubtiTree</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="title2"> Potential strategies discussed
 +
<br> (See more details in the <a href="http://2014.igem.org/Team:Toulouse/Project/Spreading">Spreading</a> dedicated page)
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">To be sure that
 +
SubtiTree will not survive and spread in the
 +
environment, many strategies were discussed to improve our bacterium:
 +
 
 +
<br>- Avoid the survival in the natural environment (outside the tree) thanks to a proline auxotrophy system
 +
<br>- Prevent the sporulation of <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> to make it annual 
 +
<br>- Avoid gene transfers between SubtiTree and a wild
 +
type bacterium thanks to a toxin-antitoxin system
 +
<br>- Use an integrative plasmid to improve the genetic stability
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title2">Public perception
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="title3">Political and public adhesion</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">Due to our
 +
strong implication in preserving this magnificent work of art, our project
 +
interested several governmental services. Indeed some municipalities and
 +
regional councils supported our local engagement. Beyond that, our project
 +
interests the highest level of the “Canal du Midi” administration: the national
 +
navigation authority (VNF) and the Ministry of agriculture. Both of them funded
 +
this project. They are now looking for the continuation of the project after
 +
the iGEM competition. This is clearly a sign that we targeted the right
 +
question. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">This project
 +
also received the attention of the public through several articles in
 +
newspapers, television, radio and internet. First we had just a local coverage,
 +
but days after days there were more and more media interested in SubtiTree. This mediatic coverage
 +
allowed us to contact concerned citizens who participated to the development of
 +
this project. This interaction with the public allowed us to explain and
 +
promote public knowledge of synthetic biology. </p>
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title3">Safety principle</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">One single tree
 +
infected by Canker, and all the trees located in an area of a couple of hundred
 +
meters around are included in the prophylactic cut. We acted to preserve the
 +
surrounding trees. The modification of the endophytic
 +
microbial fauna generated by the introduction of the engineered bacterium has
 +
to be compared to the introduction of chemicals. They contain chlorine atom and
 +
aromatic hydrocarbon, so their remediation is complicated and they represent a
 +
source of pollution. By shortening the lifespan to one season and minimizing
 +
the risks of spreading, we plan a safe and environmental-friendly way to fight
 +
Canker. 
 +
 
 +
 
 +
<p class="title2">Feasability
 +
</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">We wonder about
 +
the feasibility of tree’s treatment. As we used endophytic
 +
bacteria, we can count on the natural growth of SubtiTree
 +
inside the sap. So we can inject few bacteria to be sure to have enough
 +
bacteria to protect the tree. Some researchers (Xianling
 +
Ji<sup>1</sup> et al) already injected <i>B. subtilis</i> in plants and
 +
observed an increase of bacteria concentration to a maximum of 10<sup>5</sup>
 +
bacteria/mL</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">As we aim to
 +
inject a small quantity of bacteria, this treatment remains cheaper than the
 +
injection of several liters of chemical fungicides. In addition, this injection
 +
prevents the preventive tree cutting, which is very expensive. Cutting one tree
 +
cost around € 3000. The administration in charge of the protection of the
 +
“Canal du Midi” already plans to spend 220 million euros to cut and replant all
 +
trees along the Canal. Besides the important cost of cutting trees, it will
 +
destroy one of the symbols of south-western France. </p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="texte">We know that SubtiTree could be improved in many ways, but in the
 +
iGEM’s circumstances we could not have the time to go
 +
deeper. First, we can improve the fixation module. Using chitin as fixation
 +
anchor is simple but not enough specific to fix just one fungus type. That’s
 +
why we first think to fix SubtiTree to one protein
 +
included in the <i>Ceratocystis
 +
platani</i>’s
 +
membrane: CP. The bacterial prototype designed this summer can be optimized to
 +
trigger the fungicides production when the binding is completed, and to be more
 +
specific changing the peptides produced.</p>
 +
 
 +
<p class="title1">References</p>
 +
 
 +
<li class="tree"><p class="texte"> Xianling Ji, Guobing Lu, Yingping Gai, Chengchao Zheng,and Zhimei Mu.<b> Biological control against bacterialwilt and colonization of
 +
mulberry byan endophytic <i>Bacillus subtilis</i> strain </b>. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 65 (2008) 565–573. </p></li>
 +
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Latest revision as of 03:26, 18 October 2014