The International Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) competition is one of the largest and most visible activities in synthetic biology. iGEM serves to introduce synthetic biology to students—the pool of talent for the future of synthetic biology. Although its participants have tried to construct useful genetic devices and systems in a playful way, iGEM has also been recognized for its important role in raising students'awareness of biosafety issues. In the present study, we analyzed how the iGEM teams have quantitatively and qualitatively dealt with new safety requirements in recent years and what suggestions were made to further improve biosafety. We found an increase in the number of teams reporting safety aspects and a general improvement in the safety assessment of their projects. Although the students' safety awareness has improved, certain gaps must still be filled before iGEM can fully live up to its role as an educational competition.
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Vol. 63 • No. 1