Revision as of 03:41, 17 October 2014 by Hassanc (Talk | contribs)

Survey Analysis

Another way in which we sought to gain awareness about synthetic biology, and specifically our project, was through our survey. We designed a survey using an online third party survey generating tool, and then distributed this link through several sources. These included: social media, email, word of mouth and through other iGEM teams. As a result we managed to obtain 323 responses whilst the survey was active, and we gained quite a balanced set of responses, including: members of the public with little knowledge, leading professors and other students with varying levels of knowledge with respect to synthetic biology.

Before the questions began, we included a prelude to the survey which incorporated details regarding iGEM and synthetic biology as a whole. After speaking to individuals who took the survey they felt that this was a good way to begin and it provided them with some useful background information to allow them to make more informed decisions for the questions to follow. However, we also noticed from some of the responses that these details had clearly not been read by some individuals so in the future it may be better in terms of clarity to make this page stand out more, perhaps through strategic titling or clever background usage.

Qu. 1) If someone modifies an organism or cell such that it now has a new function, do you believe that the person has right to claim ownership of this modified organism?

We started the survey by asking the above question. As the results indicate the response was fairly even, and as a result the written responses reflected this. We had responses ranging from:

“The cell or organism should not belong to anyone”
“Noone has rights over other life”
“Does the plastic surgeon own the face that he helped create? He only enhanced it; but ultimately that face still belongs to the owner.”
to responses such as:
“Modifying cells/organisms in a particular way is its own unique work that should be as copyrightable as any other invention.However, if the initial organism were to reproduce and make other organisms that now have the same type of modified cell, I do not believe that progeny could be owned.”
“Yes as these new cells are a product of somebody's intellect, study and to an extent money through funded studies, they are therefore the intellectual property of that individual, they can then be marketed. Which in-turn can fund further develops in that area of science through research.”

These are just a few responses exemplifying some of the ideas that arose as a result of the question. We felt that to ask such a question (and the one following) in relation to intellectual property would be a good way to instigate people’s thoughts to explore the idea of what a patent is and whether when it comes to something such as cells and organisms, which are considered as alive, can we still uphold the same laws. This was a very topical question as recently in Australia, the Australian federal court ruled that isolated human genetic material can be patented. [1]

Qu.2) If someone modifies human cells, or maybe even a human, to have a new/modified function, can that person claim ownership of these human cells/human?