Team:GES NCSU Raleigh NC/Safety


North Carolina State University Genetic Engineering & Society Center iGEM Team

We are working with Antony Evans of the Glowing Plant Project to explore what it means to act responsibly with respect to genetic engineering. Specifically, we propose an iterative concept mapping framework to assess the values that people associate with responsibly releasing genetically engineered plants beyond the laboratory.

Home Team Official Team Profile Project Parts Modeling Notebook Safety Attributions

Our "Lab"

Our team, which is completing in the Policy and Practices division, will not be doing lab work. However, our team is working with the developers of the Glowing Plant, the world’s first (and to our knowledge, only) crowd-funded genetically modified organism. We are learning that simply proclaiming this plant, or any genetically modified organism, to be “safe” may not make it seem acceptable to various stakeholders.

Safety and Human Subjects

One way of thinking about the broad category of safety is to consider the rights and welfare of people who participate in academic research. In the United States, where we are located, universities are required to form Institutional Review Boards that evaluate scholars' proposals to conduct research involving humans. In addition to ensuring that individuals participating in academic studies have the opportunity to give informed consent, these boards help to protect confidentiality; to minimize physical, emotional, legal, social, and fiscal or professional risks; and to ensure that scientists and other researchers act in ethical and trustworthy ways.

As part of our commitment to upholding these principles, our team secured Institutional Review Board approval from our university to conduct research during the iGEM competition. Specifically, we proposed to use the app we developed for the competition to gather data that will a) help us further develop the tool and b) identify commonalities in how iGEM attendees with different affiliations report their value judgments while using the tool.

After reviewing our proposal, North Carolina State University's Institutional Review Board determined that our research proposal was exempt from further review. We are sharing our correspondence with the board publicly to demonstrate our commitment to transparency. In addition, during the iGEM competition, we will provide informed consent forms to individuals willing to consider participating in our study.

Safety at NCSU

At North Carolina State University, the office of Environmental Health and Safety is responsible for biological safety. However, we have not discussed our project with them because our project poses no risks to the health or safety of our iGEM team, given that we are not working with organisms or standardized biological parts.