Policy and practices

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." – Nelson Mandela

Policy and practices has been a major part of our project because Edible coli has many ethical issues. We want to raise awareness about GMO legislation, as well as get better knowledge about the general opinion on eating bacteria. To achieve this we have made a questionnaire, presented our project, published an article in the university newspaper and organized a Microorganism Quiz Night.

To get an even deeper and completely comprehensive discussion, one of our team members traveled to Ghana and interviewed two scientists with expert knowledge on nutrition in Ghana. Additionally, we have made a business plan with which we present a possible final product idea. And last but not least we have made a video adventure that is both entertaining and educational. Try it out, and learn more about bacteria and GMOs here.


In mid summer we made a questionnaire, which was accessible for 2 months. It was only meant to be answered by people connected to a University, as we assume that people with an educational background have the possibility to rule on various issues. The questionnaire explained GMOs for the sake of the participants who had not heard of it. The purpose of the questionnaire was supposed to give us a better idea of how much people know about GMO and what the common opinion is about these organisms. Furthermore we want to know if people see any problems with eating bacteria.

The questionnaire was answered by 271 people from Denmark, the United Kingdom, Ghana, Singapore and Argentina. We didn't use the data from Singapore as they were only four survey participants. Most of the survey participants were between 19-25 years old and most of them had a natural science or health science as a field of study. In the end ofour questionnaire, we asked for elaborations of the ethical aspects regarding our project. Some of these are displayed as speech bubbles accross the wiki section.

To see all received data, click here. To see the questionnaire, click here.


We received 152 answers from people living in Denmark.

The data seen above shows that more than 82 % of the survey participants had heard about GMO before and would eat bacteria if it would be nourishing to them. The data show a tendency of open mindedness regarding GMO as a food source in Denmark.
We received very different answers to the question: Could GMO help reduce malnutrition in your country? Many of the survey participants pointed out, that malnourishment isn't a problem in Denmark, which might explain, why most people answered Maybe and I don't think so.

United Kingdom

We received 22 answers from people living in United Kingdom.

All survey participants from the United Kingdom had heard about GMO before. Please note that the surveys were completed during an iGEM Meet-up, which means that all asked people were familiar with synthetic biology. 72.7% would eat bacteria, when it is nourishing, but only 22.7% think it could help reduce malnutrition in the United Kingdom. Based on this low percentage we wonder if many of the survey participants don't regard malnourishment a problem in the UK. The answers from Denmark and the UK were difficult to interpret and conclude from, due to the fact that both countries primarily answered maybe and I don’t think so to the question: Could GMO help reduce malnutrition in your country?


We received 36 answers from people living in Ghana.

As in Denmark and the UK, most of the survey participants had heard about GMO before, and most of them would eat bacteria, if it would be nourishing. But the percentages of people who answered Yes to both questions are clearly lower, compared to Denmark and the UK. On the other hand, 27.8% of the survey participants from Ghana answered Yes to the question: Could GMO help reduce malnutrition in your country?, compared with 14.4% in Denmark, and 22.7% in the UK. Furthermore, 41.7% answered Maybe, which suggests that people in Ghana are very open-minded towards GMO as a way to reduce malnnourishment.


We received 49 answers from people living in Argentina.

44.9% of the survey participants from Argentina had heard about GMO before which is the lowest percentage of Yes answers among the countries. In contrast 83.7% would eat a nourishing bacteria which would be a GMO. We wonder if the survey participants were aware of this.
The survey participants from Argentina also had the highest percentage of Yes answers to the question regarding if GMO could help reduce malnutrition in Argentina. 26.5% answered Yes, and 44.9% answered Maybe. Only 4.1% answered No, compared with 10.5%, 9.1% and 11.1% in Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ghana respectively. The data suggests that people in Argentina are very open-minded towards GMO as a help to reduce malnutrition.


The questionnaire gave us a good idea of the general opinion about GMO and the ethical issue of eating bacteria. It shows that most people, are very open-minded towards GMO as a food source and as a way to fight malnourishment, which contradicted with our expectations. Furthermore the data showed us, that most people with a connection to a university had heard about GMO before, but most of these people came from Europe. We think that this might be because people in Europe are more used to being critical towards new initiatives.

Regarding the question: Would you eat a bacteria, that could provide the optimal quantity of nutrition you need?, we wondered if all survey participants were aware of the fact that a nourishing bacteria doesn't exist, and that it requires genetical modification to create one.
We saw no clear tendency with the question: Could GMO help reduce malnutrition in your country? The answers of the individual survey participants were very diverse, but we can conclude that more people from Ghana and Argentina see a potential of GMO as a help to fight malnourishment in their country. This could be due to the fact that people in Ghana and Argentina are presented with undernourishment in their own country as an everyday crude reality.
But as mentioned above, some survey participants pointed out, that they don’t see a problem with malnourishment in Denmark.

It is important to keep an eye on what type of people answered our questionnaire. We saw that many participants had a natural science or social science background and many were in the same age range. Their educational background might have introduced them to GMO before, so that they have a more scientific point of view compared to people with different educations. Furthermore, younger people might be more open-minded towards new technology compared to older people.
In fact, we can´t be sure that only people with connection to a university have filled out our questionnaire. We asked that only those people would answer the questionnaire, but it was freely available to all. All data from the UK were answered by iGEM participants. These people have a similar educational background and are probably all interested in synthetic biology, which often includes knowledge about GMO. It is possible that the data are more uniform because of this.
People who don´t know much about bacteria and GMO might have an unconsciously negative attitude towards the words as most people have negative connotations, i.e. all associations a person has about a word.

Unfortunately, we couldn´t use some of the data, as the answers were unclear. The questions could have been designed differently, with fewer and simpler response options. This might have lead to a clearer result.

Overall, we got too few responses and a too little diversity of participants, but the results obtained gave an insight into the opinion of the people.