Team:KU Leuven/Human Practices/EndUser



Secret garden

Congratulations! You've found our secret garden! Follow the instructions below and win a great prize at the World jamboree!

  • A video shows that two of our team members are having great fun at our favourite company. Do you know the name of the second member that appears in the video?
  • For one of our models we had to do very extensive computations. To prevent our own computers from overheating and to keep the temperature in our iGEM room at a normal level, we used a supercomputer. Which centre maintains this supercomputer? (Dutch abbreviation)
  • We organised a symposium with a debate, some seminars and 2 iGEM project presentations. An iGEM team came all the way from the Netherlands to present their project. What is the name of their city?

Now put all of these in this URL:, (loose the brackets and put everything in lowercase) and follow the very last instruction to get your special jamboree prize!

tree ladybugcartoon

Hannah Arendt

Public judgement & common sense


The borders of synthetic biology

The End User

You are here!


Ensuring the future of science


Lectures for the general public


We were in the news!

Contact with the end users (farmers, the industry and the general public) of our project is part of our new developed approach, which is bottom-up structured.
The aim is to involve the end-users in our project. By having direct contact with them, our project improves already in early stages.

We interviewed both farmers and the general public, and they seemed to be very open towards the BanAphids. We are also very pleased to tell you that also the industry was very happy to invite us over. We interviewed 27 farmers and several people on the annual market etc. We also made a online survey and we received over 100 responses on that. With these data, we had a quite good idea what the opinion from the general public is.

The interest and overall positive feedback from the potential end users, both private and industrial, confirmed us we are on the right track so hopefully E. coligy will be a reality one day!

94% of the general public would use our genetically modified bacteria in their gardens

To promote synthetic biology and our project, we prepared a short survey for the general public. We started with general questions about synthetic biology. What they already knew and what their thoughts about synthetic biology are. Afterwards, we explained our project and asked their opinion, if they wanted to use it and if they would consume products treated with our BanAphids. We went specifically to farmers, our potential users, to determine their opinion and possible issues with our project. Based on our little market-survey we could modify the project to increase the number of future users. We went to markets, shops ... in Leuven and its surroundings to determine the general opinion about genetically modified organisms (GMO) and our project. We also took the opportunity to interview some people at the annual farmer’s market in Leuven. Most people did not have much knowledge about synthetic biology, although they associated synthetic biology with GMOs like corn.

Aurelie interviewing

Aurelie interviewing an interested farmer

Would you eat food treated with BanAphids?

46% of all people responded positive to the question whether they would still consume bacteria-treated products. “If the government approves your product, it must be safe”, was a frequently occurring thought. This means that the general public relies very heavily on the thorough safety assessment that they expect to be carried out by the government and their good judgment in the creation of regulations concerning genetically modified food and organisms.

Interesting questions that came up!

The team made an effort to visit all corners of the country. We crossed Flanders to survey different farmers about the use of our BanAphids. 74% of all farmers had problems with aphid infestations. After explaining our project, more than 78% of the farmers responded positively to our ecological solution. Their interest was reflected in the higher amount of questions we received from farmers in comparison to those we received from the general public.

  • “Are the bacteria dangerous?”
  • “Can the bacteria spread to other fields?”
  • “Do the bacteria still work in combination with insecticides?”
  • “Can the bacteria attract large numbers of ladybugs?”

  • Luckily we have incorporated many of these safety questions into our project. For instance, “is the bacteria dangerous?”, No, because we use a non-pathogenic E. coli strain. However, certain question raised some issues that were specific to the farmers but for which we had no insight yet. For instance, “Do the bacteria still work in combination with insecticides?”, we have no answer to this yet.

Where did we go?

Map of Belgium Every black dot on the map corresponds to a village were we surveyed some farmers. In total we interviewed twenty-seven farmers.

Do you have problems with aphids

Farmers back us up!

After taking the surveys, we know that we can really help a lot of people with our BanAphids. We were also surprised by the great number of positive reactions! This gave us a lot of positive energy and gave us an extra motivation to try the best we can to make our BanAphids.

Interview with an organic farmer

One of the farmers we visited was the organic farmer Daniël Van Poucke in Loppem. We first introduced our project to him and afterwards we asked him a couple of questions like 'Why did you become an organic farmer?" and "What are your thoughts about our project?". As part of the bottom up method, we wanted to know his thoughts about our BanAphids and the possible use by organic farmers. He was so kind to let us film the interview.

A good reference that your product is viable, is the industry. We visited two different companies to talk about our project and its feasibility. First, we went to Biobest, a worldwide leader in biological pollination and pest management. We presented our project to Prof. Felix Wäckers, the head of R&D. Not only did he give us some excellent advise but he immediately proposed some experiments that we could perform with both ladybugs, aphids and perhaps even other insects at their facilities.

This is what he had to say about our project: "As a world leader in Biological Pest Control, Biobest is looking at innovative tools that can help optimise the efficacy of biological pest control in a range of crops. The use of semiochemicals to either repel pests, or to attract and retain natural enemies is widely seen as a promising strategy that can be well integrated with existing biocontrol programs. The potential of this strategy applies particularly to open field crops, as immigration of natural enemies following their release is a particular bottleneck for the use of biocontrol in the open field. It could help open up significant new markets for Biobest and help reduce the use of pesticides and crop residues. The project uses cutting edge technologies to develop biotic slow release systems. As such, it promises to generate innovative solutions to this timely issue."

The second company we visited is pcfruit, the co-ordinating organisation for the research and advisory services of fruit growing in Belgium. They too were very excited about our idea and also there we could perform some experiments.