Team:SZ-SHD/Human Practices

Human Practices

Human Practices














Abstract:

1. Questionnaire survey on individual farmers

We decided to comprehend the farmers’ perspectives of the current pesticide which is common in the market. A total of 172 surveys were distributed and 106 surveys were returned, of which 103 were valid questionnaires. We also found the results for how farmers choose pesticides and how they do self-protection very interesting, we decided to bring this question to another three human practice activities.

2. Interview with Qian, a professional agricultural production householder

We further interviewed Mr. Qian, a professional in agricultural production and managements who has provided us with some valuable information about the usage of pesticides (bio and chemical pesticides) in the organization he belongs to.

3. Interview Prof. ChengShu Wang from Center of Excellence in Molecular Plant Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences

• If saying that the survey and interview with agricultural workers gave us suggestions about the industrial applications, Prof. Wang answered and suggested a lot of possible improvements we could have done or studied in future.

Dr. ChengShu Wang, Professor

300 Fenglin Road, Shanghai 200032, China
Email: wangcs[@]sippe.ac.cn;
ResearchID: A-1656-2011 ;
ORCID: 0000-0003-1477-1466 ;
Google Scholar Info

Education and qualifications:

09/1998-07/2001, Ph D in Microbiology, China Agricultural University, Beijing.
09/1993-07/1996, MSc in Plant Protection, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei.
09/1989-07/1993, BSc in Plant Protection, Anhui Agricultural University, Hefei.

Academic experience:

01/2007-, Professor/Principal Investigator at Institute of Plant Physiology and Ecology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS
01/2004-12/2006, Research associate (postdoc) at Department of Entomology, University of Maryland.
07/2001-12/2003, Research associate (postdoc) at School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, UK.
08/1999–09/2000, Visiting scholar supported by China Scholarship Council, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales Swansea, UK.

4. Interview Prof. Zhang TingTing from Shanxi University

Zhang Tingting, born in Shouyang, Shanxi Province in October 1986, Ph.D., associate professor, Postgraduate supervisor, Institute of Applied Biology, Shanxi University.

Academic experience:

2005/09-2008/07, Northwest A&F University, Biological Engineering, Bachelor's degree.
2008/09-2013/12, Northwest A&F University, Master and Doctor's degree in Genetics.
Dec. 2013-Present: Lecturer, Associate professor, Institute of Applied Biology, Shanxi University

Prof. Zhang is expertised in the embryonic(nymphal) development of locusts and locust chitinase. She is also an expert in insect experiments, we discuss a lot about the experiment design in the future.














Questionnaire survey on individual farmers

Our purpose of the questionnaire is to comprehend the farmers’ perspectives of the current pesticide which is common in the market. A total of 172 surveys were distributed and 106 surveys were returned, of which 103 were valid questionnaires.

1. Most of the farmers think the price of pesticides compared to the other equipment is relatively too expensive.

About 12% of the farmers think the price is acceptable, whether over 80% of the farmers who participate in the survey think the price of pesticides is the biggest cost compare to the other materials needed.

2. There are several ways to choose pesticides, but most of the farmers we interviewed were bought through the introduction of neighbors.

About 78.60% of the people which we interviewed bought through their neighbors. Farmers who prefer bought through the pharmacy is slightly more than bought through the advertising on the television. There are none of the people interviewed select pesticides through expert advice or other channels.

Note:We decided to ask the same question to the professional vegetable farmer.

3. Nearly a quarter of people don't read the instructions on the box before using pesticides.

28.30% of farmers would read the instructions on the packaging box or bottle before using the pesticide, while the other 71.70% would not read the instructions or inquire about the relevant information.

4. For those farmers who read the instructions, we also interviewed them if they would use pesticides according to the instructions.

More than half of users choose to increase the dose to ensure that pesticides are effective in protecting crops. Only less than a quarter of the farmers choose to use it according to the recommended dosage, and 17.10% of them did not pay attention to the recommendation. Farmers that appropriately reduce the number of pesticides used are taking the minimum proportion.

5. As pesticides are all slight toxic to the human body, thus the safety precautions are important for the pesticide spreaders.

Most farmers choose to wash their hands (89.80%), some of them would like to wear a mask (57.70%) and change their clothes (61.3%) after spraying pesticides. The number of pesticide spreaders who like to wear safety goggles during work is only 2.20% of all farmers we interviewed, and there is still 8.80% of farmers who don't take any preventives.

Note: We are also very interested in this result. We will also ask professional farmers the same question and remember to consult experts about pesticide's toxicity.

6. All the farmers care about the effects on protecting the crops. 96.2% of the farmers care about the cost, which is the price of the pesticides which they buy. Only 57.50% of them care about the residue remaining on the crops.














Interview with Qian, a professional agricultural production householder

Some results are quite worrying, but the survey did reflect a general habit of using pesticides in the major targeting customer of our future product - farmers who work in open fields. However, the questionnaire is not enough for us to correlate with the environment where our design will be applied. Hence, we further interviewed Mr. Qian, a professional in agricultural production and managements who has provided us with some valuable information about the usage of pesticides (bio and chemical pesticides) in the organization he belongs to:

The mind map above summarized the key information we collected and some thoughts about how we could adapt our design to these situations.

1. National authorization should be granted before utilization.
2. Different pesticides are required in disparate circumferences, including categories of crops, the timing of growth, and types of pest plagues. Especially during massive plagues, pesticides should be delicately chosen. Conventional pesticides are in use as well; for example, imidacloprid to eliminate Lepidoptera.
3. Pesticides specifically targeting locusts are limited owing to their high resistance to toxins, large number, and fast speed of feral locusts. Large-scale sprays of poisonous pesticides can cause huge impacts on the environment. In the past, we found it effective to use poultry to prevent locusts.
4. Pesticides are often sprayed in the morning or evening, rather than noon; in summer, rather than winter. But it depends on the growth stage of the crops. Usually, farmers do not use pesticides until leaves grow since budding plants cannot receive pesticides.
5. The suggested doses on the packaging are usually not followed since factors like region, weather, crops, and the number of insects can all affect the effectiveness of pesticides. Instead, farmers adopt their experience accumulated. For instance, more powder is added than the recommended amount every time. If the portion is not sufficient enough to decimate pests, farmers will step up doses and spray again. Commonly, 3 to 4 trials are required.
6. Protection suits are essential and everyone follows. We require all workers to wear the entire clothing and immediately wash hands after having contact with pesticides. 7. Bio-pesticides are also in use and seem to be effective as well. Recently, policies that encourage farmers to utilize bio-pesticides are implemented, so farmers naturally use them. Common bio-pesticides, like Bacillus thuringiensis and those prevent caterpillars, are applied with the same method as traditional pesticides.














Interview Prof. Chengshu Wang from Center of Excellence in Molecular Plant Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences

If saying that the survey and interview with agricultural workers gave us suggestions about the industrial applications, Prof. Wang answered and suggested a lot of possible improvements we could have done or studied in future.

1. We have successfully expressed toxic proteins in our engineered E. coli, is there more we could do to demonstrate the validity of our design to be applied in agriculture?

In most scenarios, the pesticide should maintain their toxicity over 24 hours after sprayed onto vegetation. It could be possible to degrade chitin lining on locusts’ pre-gut using chitinase or destroy their midgut epithelium using Bt toxins, but the insecticidal activities still need to be proved. I would highly recommend designing an experiment with suitable controls, to test their lethality (LC50) against live locusts.

2. Regarding ethics and legality, what material and information should we provide if we want to experiment on locusts?

Insect-experiments have fewer ethical issues comparing to performing mammal-experiments. Generally, you should report the source, growth stage, and the number of subjects used; as well as the methodology of your experiment.

3. Besides, is there any interesting biological pest-control been used?

Well, researchers are also using siRNA and fungus to control pests, both are quite effective nowadays. Moreover, it has been recently approved to use transgenic Bacillus Thuringiensis that produce various toxins in agriculture, as long as they do not contain an antibiotic-resistant gene (plasmid).

4. We are also quite interested in the application of fungi to control pests. But would that have adverse effects on the environment?

Alas, that is an interesting question. In the past, we were concerned that the spread of fungi could increase competition stress within local insect pathogens or could contribute to the extinction of exotic invertebrates. Whereas we have proved that wouldn’t be the case. (Prof. Wang stood up and picked out a paper form the file folder) In this article, our team investigated the distribution of and diversity of insect pathogenic fungi over 20 years, the result suggested that we’ve underestimated the natural ecology regeneration. In fact, when we introduced insect pathogens among pests, they did spread and kills very fast. But as the pests died out, the pathogen population declined as well, therefore become less infectious. That would give native pathogens a chance to infect survived pests and maintain their numbers. Similarly, exotic insects could survive from extinction as they are already low in population density hence disease spread slowly.

5. By the way, we have noted that some staff in agriculture production did not wear protective clothes or masks when spraying pesticides. Could microbe-based pesticides become dangerous in such circumstances?

Yeah, safety precautions are very important when handling pesticides. Luckily, most microbe-based pesticides are quite safe since they are made up of insect pathogens instead of mammal pathogens, the prior could be easily eliminated by our immune system. Still, there would be a chance of inflammation if one’s immunity is low. But that is already rear events, and the chance is negligible for the pathogen to spread in a population.














Interview Prof. Zhang TingTing from Shanxi University

Prof. Zhang is expertise in the embryonic(nymphal) development of locusts and locust chitinase. Below is a short selection of the conversation between our team leader Lei and prof. Zhang.

Prof. Zhang:

E. coli does not infect locusts and cause any symptoms. Though you have engineered them and make them poisonous to locusts, but have you considered any possible pathways for your engineered E. coli to enter the locusts?

Lei:

actually, our intention is to spray the engineered E. coli onto vegetation and release toxins under UV light that kill locusts when ingested by them.

Prof. Zhang:

that is actually a good design, but you guys know that it's strictly forbidden to release any transgenic organisms into environment, especially microbes. Besides, mascardine fungi have been widely applied to control locusts. I would suggest you guys design an experiment and demonstrate that these proteins produced are effective.

Lei:

Certainly will, if possible, are there any methodologies to test the toxicity of these toxins?


Prof. Zhang:

Normally you just want to experiment on live subjects straight away. As far as I know, the only way to do this is to do insect experiments, either by feeding the locusts directly or by injecting them intraperitoneally into the second and third sections of the abdomen to see how they survive. At the same time, the viscera of locusts can be fixed with pentadiol and then made into paraffin-embedded sections, which can be observed by electron microscope and observed by HE staining.

Note: We have also discussed many other details of insect experiments with Professor Zhang Tingting. She is willing to help us carry out more experimental operation guidance or use our samples to operate for us in the future, this will serve as our future plan.








Interview with Prof. Tefsen:









More detail about our education activities are on this page: Education

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