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Gene editing isn’t just about food: comments from U.S. focus groups
GM Crops & Food  (IF3.074),  Pub Date : 2021-05-20, DOI: 10.1080/21645698.2021.1919485
Brandon R. McFadden, Joy N. Rumble, Kathryn A. Stofer, Kevin M. Folta, Savanna Turner, Adam Pollack


In the United States, adult public perception of genetic modification has been well documented in the domain of agriculture and food; however, recent international news on gene editing in medical applications may present new challenges for science communicators who seek to proactively share benefits of emerging gene editing technology. While research traditionally considers perceptions of agricultural and medical applications separately, gene editing may bridge the gap between the two domains. We find that when asked about thoughts regarding gene editing, adult focus groups discussed medical applications more frequently and extensively than agricultural applications. Although, when examining the length of discussion about specific topics, designer babies, cures for disease, and food were discussed at similar lengths. Understanding audiences’ current perceptions of the technology is the first step in shaping strategic communication efforts to inform public opinion. A proper understanding of the benefits and risks of new technology is central to its application.