Team:DTU-Denmark/Human Practices




Our project has implications for the environment, ownership and sharing, education and safety.

Environment and Sustainability

The main goal of our project is to clean up environmental pollution and by doing so, reclaim the source of the pollution (ammonia) so that it can be converted into a useful product or into a source of energy. By providing a small scale solution that can be deployed the source of ammonia pollution, we are able to prevent the spread of ammonia into the environment. As ammonia run off from farms is a main cause of eutrophication, our solution will help prevent eutrophication. Additionally, we are able to provide farmers with a means to reclaim value from fertilizer that has washed off their fields. This solution has been designed considering the global context of the nitrogen cycle. By closing the loop early, we are viewing pollution as an opportunity and source of value instead of as a problem to be gotten rid of. As a result, we are able to simultaneously prevent widespread pollution of watersheds, and to provide small scale sustainable energy production to farmers.

Ownership and sharing

As we have seen over the last 30 years in the software realm, there is a lot of discussion around whether patents on intellectual property help stimulate innovation or restrict it. The debate in the software space is now becoming highly relevant to biotechnology as the ability to engineer genes, devices and organisms with commercial and social impact increases. The software world is broadly divided into two ideological camps -- those who believe that innovation is driven by the ability to protect it with patents and who aim to commercialize their wares, and those who believe that having freedom to modify and distribute your software is necessary for having freedom over your life [1].

The spirit iGEM embraces is more closely aligned with the free software movement than with commercial software -- the parts registry provides a free means for teams to exchange DNA sequences, and iGEM encourages teams to build on and improve existing sequences that have been submitted, while at the same time not preventing a team from patenting their ideas.

To explore the ideas around patents and IP law, we attended an event hosted by BioPeople called "The Basics and the Best".


To share the technology of synthetic biology, we conducted a workshop for the other iGEM teams within Denmark (SDU and KU) on how to construct and work with Biobricks.

Further, we conducted workshops for high school students to introduce them to the ideas of synthetic biology.

Finally, we spent some time helping other teams.


As we are working with GMO organisms, we necessarily consider the safety implications of our work.


  1. [1] Richard Stallman "Why free software is more important now than ever before"