Expert opinions on the regulation of plant genome editing.
Lassoued Rim,Phillips Peter W B,Macall Diego Maximiliano,Hesseln Hayley,Smyth Stuart J
Plant biotechnology journal
Global food security is largely affected by factors such as: environmental (e.g. drought, flooding), social (e.g. gender inequality), socio-economic (e.g. overpopulation, poverty) and health (e.g. diseases). In response, extensive public and private investment in agricultural research has focused on increasing yields of staple food crops and developing new traits for crop improvement. New breeding techniques pioneered by genome editing have gained substantial traction within the last decade, revolutionizing the plant breeding field. Both industry and academia have been investing and working to optimize the potentials of gene editing and to bring derived crops to market. The spectrum of cutting-edge genome editing tools along with their technical differences has led to a growing international regulatory, ethical and societal divide. This article is a summary of a multi-year survey project exploring how experts view the risks of new breeding techniques, including genome editing and their related regulatory requirements. Surveyed experts opine that emerging biotechnologies offer great promise to address social and climate challenges, yet they admit that the market growth of genome-edited crops will be limited by an ambiguous regulatory environment shaped by societal uncertainty.
Knowing when to talk? Plant genome editing as a site for pre-engagement institutional reflexivity.
Smith Robert D J,Hartley Sarah,Middleton Patrick,Jewitt Tracey
Public understanding of science (Bristol, England)
Citizen and stakeholder engagement is frequently portrayed as vital for socially accountable science policy but there is a growing understanding of how institutional dynamics shape engagement exercises in ways that prevent them from realising their full potential. Limited attention has been devoted to developing the means to expose institutional features, allow policy-makers to reflect on how they will shape engagement and respond appropriately. Here, therefore, we develop and test a methodological framework to facilitate pre-engagement institutional reflexivity with one of the United Kingdom's eminent science organisations as it grappled with a new, high-profile and politicised technology, genome editing. We show how this approach allowed policy-makers to reflect on their institutional position and enrich decision-making at a time when they faced pressure to legitimate decisions with engagement. Further descriptions of such pre-engagement institutional reflexivity are needed to better bridge theory and practice in the social studies of science.