Public Perceptions Regarding Genomic Technologies Applied to Breeding Farm Animals: A Qualitative Study

F. Z. Naab, D. Coles, E. Goddard and L. J. Frewer,  BioTech,  10. 2021.

The societal acceptability of different applications of genomic technologies to animal production systems will determine whether their innovation trajectories will reach the commercialisation stage. Importantly, technological implementation and commercialisation trajectories, regulation, and policy development need to take account of public priorities and attitudes. More effective co-production practices will ensure the application of genomic technologies to animals aligns with public priorities and are acceptable to society. Consumer rejection of, and limited demand for, animal products developed using novel genomic technologies will determine whether they are integration into the food system. However, little is known about whether genomic technologies that accelerate breeding but do not introduce cross-species genetic changes are more acceptable to consumers than those that do. Five focus groups, held in the north east of England, were used to explore the perceptions of, and attitudes towards, the use of genomic technologies in breeding farm animals for the human food supply chain. Overall, study participants were more positive towards genomic technologies applied to promote animal welfare (e.g., improved disease resistance), environmental sustainability, and human health. Animal “disenhancement” was viewed negatively and increased food production alone was not perceived as a potential benefit. In comparison to gene editing, research participants were most negative about genetic modification and the application of gene drives, independent of the benefits delivered.

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