Team:Tec-Chihuahua/Human Practices

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human practices


Researching the needs of a community is simple, presenting and trying to attend them is a challenge; but interacting with those benefited from the possible solutions, getting to know their true needs, and understanding their point of view, goes way beyond that. Our Human Practices were crucial to validate the problem and analyze everything from an essential point of view; the one of our stakeholders. However, by conducting our Integrated Human Practices we fully immersed and commited ourselves with our society.

Cotton Value Chain

How can we identify our stakeholders?

The value chain (VC) is a tool that helps us analyze and identify each one of the parts involved in cotton processing. However, since every sector sees our project from their own perspective, the factors to consider are different in every case.

In the following diagram, you can see the value chain for cotton, from the crops, all the way to its industrial outputs.

Hover over the images to display more information.

The first link of the value chain is the cropping of cotton, and is encompassed all the way to the cotton bud. This is mainly harvested for its fiber and seeds, either for the production of textiles or of by-products used to obtain oil, paper and livestock feed. Although in some areas cotton cropping has been mechanized, the vast majority (especially with small producers) it is still customary to hire personnel for planting. So during this stage it has been reported a generation of almost 4 million direct wage jobs and approximately 9 million indirect wage jobs. These numbers refer solely to Mexico, now, can you imagine around the whole world? Plant diseases like Verticillium wilt cause a decrease in production, and as a result of this, producers have to make staff reductions, which closes the main source of income for thousands of families.

Finally, in this sector we can identify as main actors both producers and agronomic engineers.

After the cotton buds, the next stage is the harvest/pinch. This can be carried out either with machinery or by hand. When using machinery, the producer benefits since a smaller number of people per hectare must be hired; around 7 people overall. On the other hand, a manual harvest provides higher quality cotton and up to 25 people are needed per hectare. In most cases, these jobs are the only support for the worker’s family.

Once again, the main actors of this sector are the producers.

After the harvest, a ginning machine is responsible for extracting the cotton leaving the capsule empty. The fiber obtained through this process still has seeds (it is known as raw cotton).

Being a fully mechanized process, producers usually deliver their product to a cotton ginner, where this task is carried out.1

Therefore, in this sector, cotton ginners are identified as one of the main stakeholders.

Immediately after ginning, the raw cotton is taken to a shaker to separate the seeds from the fiber to finally obtain raw cotton. However, the amount obtained is only between 35 to 40%.1

Small ginners, such as the ginner Del Desierto in Delicias, Chihuahua, employ around 15 people. It is known that the amount of employers, and consequently depending families, is proportional to the ginner’s size.

Thus, we can identify deseeders as one of our stakeholders.

Textiles manufacturers

Cotton fiber can be sent to the United States Department of Agriculture or an expert visits the region, to evaluate the fiber’s quality. Its price depends on the stocks value and the evaluation of certain characteristics, like elasticity and thickness. However, phytopathogenic fungi such as Verticillium dahliae are able to reduce its quality and therefore its price.

At a national level, the textile and clothing industry generates more than half a million jobs, and a significant amount of exports; $ 4,695 million pesos. However, in the last couple of years the number of imports exceeded that of exports.2,3

So, in addition to the jobs cotton generates, it can greatly impact a country’s economy. Thus, textile industries are recognized as one of our stakeholders.

At the end of the ginning, the remaining 60 or 65% of the product consists of seeds, short fibers - called borras - and garbage. Usually, the seed is processed to obtain cattle feed, the short fibers are treated to produce high quality bond paper, used as a source of cellulose for the chemical industry, and the resulting garbage is sometimes reused as a fertilizer for the same cotton fields. Even if this tries to ensure an effective use of the whole product, it can generate a vicious circle in which the spores of the phytopathogenic fungus V. dahliae return to the ground.

At this stage, we can find various stakeholders such as the livestock industry, the paper and pulp industry and even the ginner itself.

Based on the previous scheme, we set ourselves the task of achieving a significant approach with each of the stakeholders to learn more about the problem and the best way to propose our solution. We firmly believe in involving ourselves with the stakeholders, understanding them, and taking into account their needs and opinions. At the end of the day, our project has been developed by and for our society.

Consultations With Stakeholders

While the stakeholders present in cotton processing play a very important role, we are aware that our project goes beyond, so that our stakeholders are extended. Our stakeholders and the interactions made are presented hereafter. Also, with the intention of promoting iGEM values - integrity, good sportsmanship, respect, honesty, celebration, cooperation, effort and excellence - we handed a Privacy Policy to the people that we interacted with so it helped us to let them know more about our project, and that their information would be used carefully and wisely.


Union of Cotton Producers of the State of Chihuahua A.C

They were very kind to share with us data about cotton on the state of Chihuahua: number of hectares plantes, production, among others.

We learned that there exist 12,000 cotton producers in Chihuahua, and their product is exported to the US, China, and Japan. Regarding Verticillium wilt, it has been reported in the areas of Buenaventura, Janos, and Ascensión.

Bernardo Blatz - Janos, Chihuahua

Medium Producer

Bernardo is an agronomic producer who manages around 90 ha of cotton. He’s suffered strong economic losses due to Verticillium wilt. His previous rescue option was using transgenic seeds, but unfortunately they were banned this year.

He has no knowledge of any product that attacks this disease effectively, but he shared with us the fact that he doesn’t like to use chemicals because he fears for his family’s health.

Finally he let us know that several companies raise their prices, abusing of buyers, this due to the unavoidable need the farmers have.

Ornelio Friessen - Janos, Chihuahua

Medium Producer

Ornelio manages 70 hectares of cotton, the most important crop for him aside from chili. In past years he had a yield of 7.5 bales per hectare.

He’s been aware of Verticillium for 10 years, and even today he considers it the most problematic disease regarding cotton plants. To try to inhibit it, he’s resorted to the use of triazoles (ex. Pointer, Sparta) which are agrochemical pesticides, as recommended by his technical advisor; the technical advisor is in charge of advising and supervising crops.

Finally, he shared with us that he’s been having troubles with certain products’ solubility because of their inefficient composition, even when they are applied through irrigation

Bruno Enns - Ojinaga, Chihuahua

Medium Producer

For over 7 years Verticillium has affected his cotton crops. In an attempt to inhibit it, he has tried to apply foliar products through irrigation, pivot, and sprinkling, with no favorable outcomes. Unfortunately, fiber’s quality has decreased affecting cotton’s price.

Bernardo Dyck - Janos, Chihuahua

Big Producer

Bernardo is a producer of the agricultural region of Janos, who counts cotton as one of his main crops. He shared with us that he sows 180 ha of cotton, and that after the harvest, it’s of great importance to assess the quality of the fiber because its commercial price depends on that. Further on he sadly recognized that Verticillium dahliae has caused the bale yield to decrease in recent years. Despite the fact that he’s been aware of the disease for the past 7 years, he still hasn’t found a product capable of eradicating this fungus. He also shared with us that it’s easier for him to apply a product through irrigation. Finally he mentioned that for any inconvenience he stumbles upon, he relies fully on his technical advisor.

Jacobo Nilshen - Janos, Chihuahua

Big Producer

Jacobo owns 150 ha of cotton crops and annually he used to produce over 10 bales per hectare, but for the past couple years his yield was reduced by 20%. Once again, Verticillium dahliae was recognized as the main disease responsible for cotton crops losses. He is currently using triazoles to control this fungus, although, he can’t be fully aware of its effectiveness until after the harvest.

After telling him about our project he happily offered us the opportunity to try out our product in a small portion of his crops, once we have our prototype.

Adam Fehr - Ojinaga, Chihuahua

Big Producer

Adam has worked his whole life on family crops, and in the past few years he has identified Verticillium wilt as one of the main problems in cotton fields. His production has been reduced from 12 bales per hectare, to only 8.

Despite his attempts of eradicating it with diverse products, he hasn’t succeeded yet. He also shared with us how application of diverse products through irrigation is the simplest for them.

Alfonso Blancas - Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Big Producer

Year after year, producer Alfonso Blancas obtained a yield of 14 bales maximum and 7 bales minimum per hectare. However, since 2014, Verticillium wilt has affected his production, reducing it to 5 or 6 bales per hectare.

In order to diminish the losses, he’s tried crop rotation that consists in planting non-susceptible crops, with no success whatsoever. He shared with us how the optimal application method of pesticides is through irrigation.

He also offered us his crops to carry out future field trials with our product.

Technical Experts

Ph.D. Laila Nayzzel Muñoz Castellanos - Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Mycology expert

"I bet on the area of ​​biopesticides, it is a core part of the future."

Dr. Laila counts with a Doctorate in Environmental Science and Technology and belongs to the National System of Investigators, with a current status of investigator level 1. In addition to this, she has extensive experience working with phytopathogenic fungi. She has been extremely helpful to the development of our project, so much that she became part of our team as an instructor.

From her experience in the area, he stated that Verticillium dahliae is an exceptionally difficult fungus to treat and, due to lack of information, farmers allocate the symptoms of their diseased crops to other pathogens.

Actually, she shared with us that in our city (Chihuahua, Chihuahua), once there existed successful textile companies, but in the 70s there was a strong crisis in the state’s cotton production due to Verticillium dahliae. This resulted in the closure of these businesses. A relevant example of this is the DemTex company.

She also informed us that there is no treating fungicide against Verticillium and that she suggests the creation of a systemic product to fight it due to its systemic mechanism of action. However one of the drawbacks of systemic pesticides is that the current ones don’t travel more than 15 cm from the ground.

Considering this, she thinks that the best possible option is a preventive fungicide, since it is cheaper and more practical.

It’s worth mentioning that she emphasized how sadly chemical pesticides are often used to commit suicide in rural communities, and how using biological products contributes greatly to preventing this.

M.Sc. Clinton J. Jurke - Alberta, Canada

Mycology expert

Clinton is the director of agronomy on Canada’s Canola Council. Currently he is the leader of a group of researchers paired with the University of Manitoba and Alberta, that focuses on Verticillium in the Canola industry.

To this day, there is no effective solutions, also he had no knowledge about the use of antifungal peptides for treating phytopathogens. However, he let us know that canola crops do not use irrigation systems.

Eng. Carlos García - Janos, Chihuahua

Agrochemical expert

The engineer Carlos García is in charge of supervising several crops from Colonia Buena Vista, Janos. Throughout the years he’s came to the conclusion that cotton holds the greatest importance for both agriculture and families' economy. He has known about Verticillium wilt for years, and although there are several crops susceptible to the fungus, cotton is the most affected.

Annually, losses of 15% to 20% had been noticed, but due to the lack of disease-resistant seeds this year, greater losses are expected. In addition to this, there is no effective product against V. dahliae. Therefore he has opted for triazoles to try to inhibit it, but it is not yet known if it will work.

Also, low fiber prices aren’t an incentive for investments to be made to control Verticillium; which is a shame because it is not possible to detect the disease until it’s impossible to rescue the crop.

He was very kind in telling us that for a product to reach cotton’s roots it’s essential to apply it halfway through irrigation. On average, an irrigation period lasts 6 hours, and for a product to doesn’t remain in the surface of the tank’s flow, the flow should be turned off half an hour before the period ends. Finally, based on his experience, he knows that for each cotton hectare, around 25m3 of water are required.

Eng. Jonathan Acevedo - Janos, Chihuahua

Agronomic engineer

Engineer Jonathan is in charge of advising around 2,000 hectares of cotton crops in Colonia Buena Vista, Janos, in the state of Chihuahua. During our interview, he confirmed how Verticillium dahliae represents an issue for them, since it causes around 40% to 50% of their crop losses. This impacts both production and fiber quality.

As a result of the lack of an effective product specialized in the inhibition of V. dahliae, he’s currently using triazole through irrigation, to diminish its incidence. However, so far it’s not possible to verify its efficiency until harvest season comes.

Likewise, he let us know that agronomic product’s development companies host presentations and demonstration plots where technicians get to evaluate the product.

Eng. Jesús Manuel Vázquez - Ojinaga, Chihuahua

Agronomic engineer

The engineer Jesús Vázquez works in the city of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, and has known about Verticillium for 9 years. Season after season losses due to V. dahliae have raised, up to a decrease of 1.5 to 2 bales per hectare. To prevent it he has suggested producers to carry out crop rotation and use triazoles and polyphenols, but so far no impact has been noticed.

Despite being in charge of several crops, he stated that, due to its profitability, none other can be compared to cotton.

Eng. Elvis Lechuga - Janos, Chihuahua

Agronomic engineer

Elvis Lechuga in the advisor of the cotton crops “Nueva Holanda” in the city of Ojinaga, Chihuahua. He informed us that they have been affected by Verticillium for over 8 years. To avoid infection, they’ve resorted to crop rotation and the application of foliar -through the leaves- products, but the expected results have not been obtained.

He considers that, in extreme cases, around 70% to 80% of the crops can be lost, which roughly translates to 8 or 11 bales per hectare, aside from diminution of the fiber’s thickness and size.

Eng. Francisco Galindo - Ojinaga, Chihuahua

Agronomic engineer

Engineer Galindo works at the cotton fields of “Nueva Holanda” and has known about Verticillium for almost a decade. To try and reduce damage, they’ve started to apply macronutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to the soil, and throughout the cycle, some foliar products, which are applied through pivot.

In infected zones losses in cotton production can reach 40% or 50%, since it affects its quality and sometimes the acorn is unable to open.

Eng. Carlos Zabala - Janos, Chihuahua

Agronomic engineer

Engineer Carlos Zabala advises Colonia Buena Vista, Chihuahua. He is aware that for an optimal growth of cotton crops the application of fertilizers, agrochemicals, growth regulators, and foliar products is essential. By having an excellent quality, the production cost per hectare can reach, approximately, $1500 dlls.

Despite the use of products based on antagonic microorganisms, their effect doesn’t last long and further on the crops are vulnerable to fungi.

Even if transgenic seeds are an option for cost reduction, in the country only two commercial brands are distributed, and unfortunately, this year acquiring them wasn’t possible.

Due to crop rotation, other products such as peanut and chili, become vulnerable to Verticillium wilt.

He also shared with us that a producer’s choice to buy a product is greatly guided by their technical assessor. Then he told us that the assessors choose pesticides based on their effectiveness, leaving the price consideration aside.

For Verticillium, he informed us that irrigation through bands and pivots is important because fungicides reache the roots. Also, irrigation time has to be considered when water is rising by capillarity, to optimize the product’s delivery method.

Right now, they are using triazoles, which attack both beneficial and pathogenic fungi.

“As workers in the agricultural industry, we are aware of the great benefits of transgenic organisms. There is no basis to say they are bad.”

Eng. Sergio Montijo - Mexicali, Baja California

Agronomic engineer

Engineer Montijo is in charge of advising 12,000 hectares in the area of San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora and Mexicali, Baja California. In these regions a total amount of 28,600 and 600 hectares, respectively, are planted.

During this season, of the hectares he supervises, a 10% has been affected. To treat this, he resorted to the use of triazoles, but since they are not effective, they end up being too expensive. As for the kind of products they use, they prefer liquid products given their effective solubility.

He was very kind to share with us his opinion on transgenic products:

“They present higher effectiveness; this reduces the amount of pesticides needed, which are very harmful to health and the environment. It is also of utmost importance to not exceed their use, since if used improperly, they can cause the plant to develop resistance to certain diseases.”

Ph.D. Silvia Lorena Montes Fonseca - Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Nanoencapsulation expert

Doctor and national investigator level 1, Silvia Lorena is a nanotechnology researcher. During our approach, she shared the advantages of nanoencapsulated products, among which are greater efficiency and less pollution.

She let us know the considerations for choosing a nanocapsule’s components. Since its purpose was to serve as a biofungicide, it was essential to consider heat resistance, potential photodegradation and biodegradability.

For the components, she mentioned that chitosan has been broadly studied and has an amazing versatility. Also, she assured us that nanoencapsulating different peptides in the same capsule, does not represent any theoretical risk.

M.B.A Rocío Ramírez - Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Business expert

Rocío advises companies in the financial field. However, during our approach she helped us to settle the bases for our business model and canvas; as well as to understand the role the entrepreneurship area played in our project.

She also told us about a commonly used framework by companies to evaluate if a project was sustainable or not: The Triple Bottom Line.

Government Institutions

“State Committee for Plant Health” - Chihuahua

Environmental area

"I bet on the area of ​​biopesticides, it is a core part of the future."

In the meeting with the Eng. Alfonso Soto, we learned that cotton is one of the most important crops and that 95% of them in our state are located at the northern and northwestern zone of the state of Chihuahua.

Products derived from cotton crops are, mostly, sold to the national textile companies of Puebla, Estado de Mexico, and Hidalgo, as well as exported to countries like Pakistan, China, Japan, and Afghanistan.

He confirmed the presence of Verticillium dahliae on cotton and chili crops. Usually, to inhibit this type of pathogens, transgenic seeds are used, however, the government only supported producers to purchase them 2 years ago.

Cotton can be classified according to its resistance, micro, and fiber length. Unfortunately, Verticillium wilt is capable of affecting any of these parameters, decreasing its selling price.

He also told us that there isn’t a lot of information about the issue because authorities do not give it the importance it deserves. It is assumed that because Chihuahua has such a great production, it does not suffer from important pathogens in its crops, however, there are many marginal zones in the state who desperately need support.

“More interest is needed to continue collecting and spreading this information.”

“Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks”- México

Environmental area

COFEPRIS is an institution responsible for exercising health regulation, control, and promotion, as well as the prevention and control of harmful effects of environmental factors on health, among other tasks.

With the purpose of familiarizing ourselves with the legal classification and health norms that our project must comply with, a technical consult was realized where a document describing our product and the methodology for its elaboration was sent. However, to obtain any sort of answer you must wait a period of 180 days.

“Secretary of Rural Development” - Chihuahua, Chihuahua

Grad. Silvia Gomar, Eng. Carlos Monarrez and Eng. Ricardo Márquez

The Secretary of Rural Development seeks to boost the Agricultural and Forestal Sector, increasing its productivity through abilities, development, and technology application.

During our interview, they let us know the great importance of cotton crops, both for our country’s economy, as for our society, since it is a considerable source of employment. Chihuahua, our state, produces a large amount of cotton that helps fulfill national demand, but there is still a lot to be done.

They had no clue about the degree Verticillium wilt affected our state’s and country’s cotton crops. When hearing about this, they were surprised, but they shared with us, that unfortunately, in many cases they cannot fund certain investigations. Finally, they acknowledged how on some occasions producers do not have enough confidence to approach institutions like them.

"National Institute of Forestal, Agricultural and Livestock Research"- Delicias, Chihuahua

Engineer Hugo Raúl Uribe Montes

INIFAP is a research center that seeks to generate scientific knowledge and technologies that contribute to the sustainability of the forestal, agricultural and livestock sub-sectors in our country.

Eng. Uribe is responsible for the investigations regarding cotton crops. He is in charge of generating technology or approaching problems that affect the producer. He informed us that at this institute Verticillium dahliae is not treated, because their budget is not enough to fund this.

Talking about fungicides he mentioned how the producer should be trained in their proper use. To prevent the fungi from developing resistance, the product is constantly changed, because it is necessary to have an interference of different action mechanisms, as well as applying products in low concentrations. Finally he shared with us how using preventive products improve the results obtained during harvest season.

Industrial Deseeder

Enrique Moreno - Ascensión, Chihuahua

"I bet on the area of ​​biopesticides, it is a core part of the future."

He is a manager at the ginner “Empresa Integradora de Agroquímicos” in the city of Ascensión Chihuahua. Around 13 to 15 people work there, and even when they consider themselves a small ginner, they produce around 5600 bales each year.

After the ginning, they use the waste as livestock feed, while the fiber is sold inside the country.

He is aware of the existence of Verticillium dahliae, and told us that he has noticed havoc in the fiber’s quality in recent years. As far as he knows, the INIFAP is currently researching about transgenic seeds resistant to Verticillium.

César Negrete - Delicias, Chihuahua

He is a manager at the ginner “Del Desierto” in the city of Delicias, Chihuahua. Despite producing up to 22,000 bales, the production has decreased in the past 3 years.

The final product is exported inside the country. If production continues to decrease, there is a high chance that textile companies in Mexico start importing a larger amount of cotton from other countries. Likewise, the jobs of the 50 people that work at the ginner would be at risk.

Besides getting comments, suggestions and feedback, we were able to share our project and let people know more about the problematic, synthetic biology, what iGEM is and, in general, our project.

Integrated Human Practices

Parting from the comments, feedback and information obtained form multiple approaches with stakeholders, we implemented them as best as we could to improve our project.

The three principal impacts that we generated can be seen in the following section:

How Our Project Took Shape

Choose a date and interact with our timeline!

Application Mechanism

  1. Dra. Laila Nayzzel
    Muñoz Castellanos

    May 27th

    Product’s action mechanism

    While explaining to us the action mechanism of the fungus Verticillium dahliae, Dr. Laila emphasized its systematic approach. She also briefly explained the advantages that a preventive fungicide has, as it helps to avoid losses. This was confirmed during our visit to INIFAP. So, when choosing our peptides, we considered the fact that V. dahliae remains as spores in the soil, and the action mechanism of AtPFN1, which attacks the cell membrane of spores, thus providing preventive qualities. Further on, through interviews with the producers we learned they didn’t notice the disease until it was considerably late. Here is where our two other peptides (WAMP1b and PsDef1) appear. Their action mechanisms offer the opportunity of stopping the pathogenic effects of the fungus even when the cotton plant is already infected.

  2. Producers

    July 3rd

    Application method

    Once again, through the interviews in the cotton fields of Ojinaga and Janos, the producers remarked how a fungicide’s application tends to be simpler with irrigation. Application through this method is easy and saves them time and effort. After this, engineer Jonathan Acevedo affirmed that applying a product through irrigation results in a greater reach to the plant’s roots. Since the fungus V. dahliae starts its infection through the roots, developing a product designed to be applied through irrigation was the best option.

  3. Ornelio Friessen

    July 3rd


    Producer Ornelio shared with us that one of the biggest issues when applying a product through irrigation was the poor solubility it had in water. What this caused was that a larger amount of product was needed to achieve the desired efficiency. Some time later, engineer Sergio mentioned how producers picked a product considering its solubility. Therefore, once the fungicide presentation was chosen, the fact that it should be highly soluble was taken into special account when choosing the inert ingredients.

  4. Eng. Carlos Zabala

    August 7th

    Prolonged release

    Engineer Carlos shared his unconformity about how fungicides with biological active ingredients have a short period of effectiveness. Given that our active ingredients were peptides, we realized we had to ensure a considerable protection for them if we wanted our fungicide to have a high yield when it reached the roots. Through an extensive bibliographic consultation, we came to the conclusion that nanoencapsulating our peptides was the best option. One of the advantages of nanoencapsulation is that it offers a prolonged release. Initially, given its natural character pectin was our first choice; pectin is a soluble polymer that can be found in every terrestrial plant’s meristematic tissue, so it is not toxic for the environment, also it has been used to encapsulate peptides.

  5. Ph.D. Silvia Lorena
    Montes Fonseca

    August 27th

    Shell materials for nanoencapsulation

    After selecting nanoencapsulation as the protection method for our peptides, we approached Dr. Lorena, who is an expert in nanocapsules. She taught us about the properties of chitosan and its wide range of uses. This material has been studied for a long time, which is why its characteristics are thoroughly explained in literature. Then, through some bibliographic research we learned about the excellent nanocapsules formed with chitosan and polylactic acid (CPLA). Its release controlled by pH (thanks to the alkaline pH in the soil, the CPLA nanocapsule can release the active ingredients) and its protection against UV rays, were some of the main factors that influenced our decision of proposing these materials as corewalls and implementing them as corewalls.

  6. Eng. Carlos García

    September 2nd

    When should it be applied?

    During our first contact with the engineer Carlos Zabala, he mentioned that when applying a product through irrigation, it was of great importance to find the best moment to do so, in order to make its action as efficient as possible. On another interview, engineer Carlos García told us that for cotton crops its necessary to apply products halfway through irrigation period. He explained that this caused the product to arrive as effectively as possible to the roots. Since on average the irrigation period lasts 6 hours, the ideal process is that our product is applied 3 hours after irrigation begins and is retired half an hour before it ends to avoid product accumulation on the surface of the tank.

  7. Eng. Hugo Raúl Uribe

    September 23rd


    One of the main issues that contribute to soil pollution is the wrongful use of pesticides. Engineer Uribe explained to us how most of the time, the producer has no knowledge of the proper specifications that must be followed. Since our main goal is to provide the absolute best to the producers, we created a label that contains simple and straightforward use instructions.

  8. How did this shape our project?

    • Preventive, treating and systemic product

    • Applicable through irrigation product

    • Effective solubility in water

    • Nanoencapsulation

    • Chitosan and polylactic acid as shell materials of the nanocapsule

    • Product must be 3 hours after irrigation starts

    • Instruction presented on a label

    Check out the detailed description in the Delivery section.

Social Responsibility

  1. Bernardo Blatz

    July 3rd

    Health protection

    Producer Bernardo, was visibly troubled when he shared his reluctance of using agrochemical products. He explained how he is afraid they might affect his family’s health. This confession made us think deeply about the need of maintaining our community informed about each and every one of our product’s components. We want to give all users the absolute certainty that using this product should not affect themselves, or their family’s, health.


    September 12th

    Risk Analysis

    When we first started our approach with COFEPRIS, we were completely aware that we’d have to wait a certain period to receive advice and answers to our multiple questions. Nonetheless, when we kept listening to the producers’ worries, we decided to develop a risk analysis about our product. We hope that this document gives our users and governmental institutions a sense of security that the product is safe for people and the environment, and we also looked to comply with all the necessary norms for its release to the market.

  3. How did this shape our project?

    • Risk analysis

    • Label indicating risks

Business Development

  1. Alfonso Blancas

    July 3rd

    Business Projection

    During our visits to cotton fields in Ojinaga, producer Alfonso Blancas extended an invitation to test our future product in a small portion of his fields. Further on, visiting the city of Janos, the comments of the producer Jacobo Nilshen allowed us to develop our projection as a company.

  2. Producers (Bernardo
    Blatz, Bernardo Dyck
    Engineer Carlos Zabala)

    August 7th

    Distribution Channel

    Each time we held a conversation with the producers, they told us that they always based their products choices on their technical advisor’s opinion. They emphasized how they completely trusted any of their suggestions. In turn, the technical advisors (usually agronomical engineers) consulted their most reliable agrochemicals distributor. Consequently, our entrepreneurship area was developed in base of a distribution channel whose objective is to ease our product’s acquisition and train agronomical engineers by giving diverse conferences.

  3. Producers and agronomical engineers

    August 17th

    Compliance with legislation

    Producers showed quite a lot of interest when we shared our project with them and told us how they would love to try it. For it to become a future reality, a research began to define the laws and norms that we must follow to properly establish a company.

  4. How did this shape our project?

    • Business Model

    • Legal Plan

Triple Bottom Line

When we first started developing our project, we knew one of our main considerations should be the impact it would have on our stakeholders. However, we didn’t know how to accomplish this in a satisfactory and meaningful way. Talking with the M.B.A Rocío Ramírez, we learned about the “Triple Bottom Line (TBL)”. The TBL is an accounting framework used by companies to seek sustainability.4

This tool reports all the interactions that a company has socially, economically and environmentally, with their stakeholders5. Even if we know that this is mainly used in the business area, we believe they stand as essential factors any project should consider. Even when our project looks to satisfy a current need, it is not fair nor right to compromise future generations.

Therefore, taking the Triple Bottom Line as our basis, we chose to develop an analysis of our project V-Tion.





Pesticides - usually classified as herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides - contain chemicals as active ingredients, which act on specific cellular processes and/or key proteins involved in general metabolism regulation, cellular growth, and differentiation. Furthermore, they are capable of affecting the mitochondrial respiratory chain leading to apoptosis, rising reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels causing inflammation, altering the signaling pathways involved in growth control, and/or inducing DNA damage.6

The product’s toxicity depends on the physical and chemical properties of its composing ingredients. A product’s toxicity is defined as the capacity of poisoning or harming animals or plants; it is related with the dose and exposure period. Even in small doses, if they are periodical they can lead to severe damage.

Human beings, and any other non-target organism, are exposed to toxicity through skin absorption, ingestion and/or inhalation during creating the mixture, applying the product, and, given the usual lack of biodegradability of their compounds, when they consume certain foods.7

Bernardo Blatz, a producer from Janos, shared with us the following statement: “I am more scared of using agrochemicals than transgenics”. It really should be no surprise that farmers are worried about their health and their family’s, when annually at least a million farmers are hospitalized for accidental poisoning by agrochemicals. Unfortunately, pesticides can be even more harmful in unexpected ways. Dra. Laila Muñoz explained to us that, sadly, due to pesticides’ high toxicity people use them to commit suicide.

Globally, a total of 155,488 deaths by pesticide self-poisoning have been estimated, as well as 7,362,493 Disability Adjusted Life Years (one lost year of “healthy” life) annually.8,9

Absorbed components, eventually reach the liver, where biotransformation is performed in order to ease their excretion. However, sometimes the resulting products from this transformation are even more toxic. Either chronically or acutely, exposure to agrochemicals causes throat, nose or eye irritation, effects on the endocrine and nervous system, or even death.10

Synthetic biology applied to agriculture offers the opportunity of reducing and/or eliminating certain risks to the users health. The lack of information and comprehension of these new technologies has led to a generalized rejection of tools that this science has developed. According to the producers, agronomical engineers, and government institutions (like the State Committee of Plant’s Health) we interviewed, this year the sale of transgenic seeds resistant to V. dahliae was forbidden. Nonetheless, producers and technical specialists agree on the advantages of using recombinant products:

“As workers in the agricultural industry, we are aware of the great benefits of transgenic organisms. There is no basis to say they are bad” commented engineer Carlos Zabala.

"I bet on the area of ​​biopesticides, it is a core part of the future" expressed Dr. Laila, phytopathology expert.

Using recombinant peptides as active ingredients to fight Verticillium dahliae aims to reduce health damage caused by chemicals. When choosing the active and inert ingredients, this was carefully considered. Engineer Sergio Montijo shared that “transgenic products reduce the amount of pesticides used, which are very harmful to health and the environment”.

Finally, the lack of knowledge regarding the advantages of synthetic biology prompted us to participate in the organization of several United Nations model, conferences in schools and congresses, where students debated its applications as well as implications. For more details of theses United Nations models visit Public Engagement.


According to the American Chemical Society, every year around 500,000 new components are registered as active pesticides components. In spite of their multiple benefits, the excessive use, highly toxic and poorly biodegradable components, and just 10% of effective reach to the target organism, have caused the bioaccumulation of chemicals in the soil, air, water and food chain.16

Interviewing several producers and agronomical engineers we learned that, due to the lack of a specialized product for V. dahliae, they resorted to trizoles without knowing the proper dose or application period.

Triazoles are harmful chemicals that can affect humans and any other organism. They are present on The Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) from the recent european regulations. Having such a high solubility they are frequently used in agriculture, but their remnant is high, making it considerably toxic to aquatic organisms. They are also resistant to oxidation and photodegradation, allowing them to stay in the environment for prolonged periods of time.17 It has been reported that triazoles are responsible for several cases of poisoning, acute irritation and chronic toxicity. They are also common causes of reproductive toxicity, birth defects, cytochrome inhibition, as well as they are carcinogens, embryotoxic and teratogenic.

As for the soil, its fertility is reduced since triesoles reduce the microbiota present in it. In the water they affect aquatic organisms, and after all, any surface that comes into contact with them will be exposed to contamination. In the air, their molecules are easily transported, exposing any living being to risk.18

Since one of the main reasons of pollution is the lack of specificity, using nanoencapsulation provides the option of a controlled release and greater effectiveness with a lower dose. Additionally, antifungal peptides prevent the use of toxic chemicals, and their biodegradability results in an easier degradation process.

With the intention of improving the evaluation of the possible environmental effects of our project, a risk analysis was developed.


Both pests and diseases, cause about 26 and 40% of crop losses worldwide. Without pesticides, it is estimated that up to 90% of the crops’ production would be affected.11

The use of fungicides has the objective of controlling potential diseases during the establishment and development of a crop, increase production and reduce damage, and improve the storage period and quality of harvested products.12

Through our interviews with producers in the cotton areas of Ojinaga and Janos, we confirmed the absence of a specific product for Verticillium wilt. Although fungicides provide the advantages mentioned above, these depend on the effectiveness of the active ingredients. A larger amount required to apply, represents a larger cost for the producers13. For example, producer Bernardo Dyck did not count with a product whose main target is Verticillium dahliae, which is why he tried to use other products without success. Inevitable approaches like this lead to a greater investment in agrochemicals, production losses and quite probable damages in the crops.

The lack of a product specifically directed against V. dahliae has caused a major decrease of bales per hectare in cotton crops. In Janos, engineer Jonathan Acevedo reported production losses of 40-50%14. Another case is Ojinaga, where the engineer Elvis Lechuga considers that, in extreme cases, 70% or 80% of the production is lost; this translates to a loss of 8 or 11 bales per hectare, as well as the thickness and size of the fiber is also affected.

Engineer Elvis Lechuga, Bruno Enns and other producers, emphasized that, although a good number of bales are produced during the harvest, their price depends on the market and the fiber’s quality15. However, the use of non-specific products for the pest present in the plant causes grave damage to the parameters evaluated for determining its price.

Going a bit further, comments from the producers, experts like Dr. Laila, and agronomical engineers support the fact that our project is something innovative in the market, therefore a big economic impact. Based on the producers’ and engineers’ interest, letters of intent have been written to have a sustained basis of our product’s selling principle.

During these 9 months, we have happily interacted with thousands of people through our Public Engagement and Human Practices activities, so gradually our work was fueled and powered.
Also, after analyzing each aspect, we are happy to be able to contribute to people’s health care, help reduce environmental pollution and create a project that has the potential to be launched to the market, considering that it promotes sustainability and is responsible regarding the impact on society.


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