Mielby, Henrik Ole3; Sandøe, Peter4; Lassen, Jesper4
1 Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 Institute of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet3 Institute of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Section for Consumption, Bioethics and Governance, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
are cisgenic crops perceived as being more natural and more acceptable than transgenic crops?
In Europe the use of genetically modified (GM) crops in food production has so far failed to gain wide public approval. Ordinary people are concerned about issues not covered by the existing regulation, including usefulness and unnaturalness. In response, particularly to worries about unnaturalness, biotechnologists have suggested that inserted genes should derive only from the plant itself, or from close relatives. This paper examines public perceptions of these so-called ‘cisgenic crops’ and asks whether the public shares the idea that they are less unnatural and thus more acceptable than transgenic plants. Using five focus group interviews, we identified five lines of argument about naturalness with a bearing on the assessment of cisgenic crops as well as GM crops in general. The paper concludes that, depending on perceptions of naturalness, some people would agree that cisgenic crops are more acceptable than their transgenic counterparts. The finding that ordinary people value different aspects of naturalness may be relevant to a broader audience than just those interested in gene technology. It cautions against a simplistic interpretation of what counts as ‘natural’.
Agriculture and Human Values, 2013, Vol 30, Issue 3, p. 471-480
Naturalness; Public attitudes; GMOs; Cisgenesis; Focus groups; PLANTS; biotechnology; public perception; focus group