Public Perception of Animal Biotechnology


Identification: Van Eenennaam, Alison


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Public Perception of Animal Biotechnology
 
Alison L. Van Eenennaam1, Amy E. Young1
1University of California, Davis, USA
      
Public perception of animal biotechnology is far from straightforward and the lines between animal biotechnology and other issues related to animal use are often blurred. In general, concerns about animal biotechnology are influenced by i) views around the moral status of animals, the boundary between “natural” and “unnatural”, and perceived risks and benefits of animal biotechnology to health and the environment (personal and cultural characteristics); ii) the purpose of the application, the method(s) being used, and the motivation of the research group using animal biotechnologies (research characteristics); iii) the species under consideration (animal characteristics). As such, it is difficult generalize about public perception of animal biotechnology as a discrete category. The use of artificial selection, advanced reproductive techniques, crossbreeding, and genomics to introduce useful genetic variation into breeding programs have elicited little public concern. However, the use of “modern” molecular biotechnologies such as genetic engineering (GE) to introduce useful genetic variation have been associated with considerable pushback.   The first and only GE food animal approval to date, the fast-growing AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon, followed years of regulatory delay partially resulting from the negative public perception of GE. There are a number of new animal biotechnology applications in development which combine knowledge of genomic diversity with modern biotechnologies including gene editing to specifically target traits for animal health and well-being. An open and objective evaluation of both the potential benefits and risks that these applications pose to impacted stakeholders and animals may help to shift public perception; and enable animal breeders to responsibly introduce these new biotechnologies into genetic improvement programs to the benefit of both animal and human health and well-being.
 

 

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