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Barriers and Opportunities for Commercialization of Gene-Edited Beef and Dairy Products

Genomics in Society Interdisciplinary Research Teams
Agriculture and Agri Food
Genome Centre(s):
Ontario Genomics, Genome British Columbia
Project Leader(s):
Michael von Massow (University of Guelph), Dan Weary (University of British Columbia)
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
Project Description: 

For years, our understanding of genetics has been used to improve agricultural practices and food production. Conventional plant and livestock breeding have shaped many of the food products we enjoy today. More recent advances in biotechnology are allowing us to address agricultural issues that were inconceivable with standard genetic technologies. One such advancement is the development of gene-editing technologies that may be used to improve the welfare of farm animals, potentially benefiting farmers and broader. However, people have also expressed concern about the use of biotechnology in food production. This concern — as well as supply chain constraints — can lead to resistance to adopting these technologies by producers, processors, retailers, food service, and other supply chain stakeholders.

The introduction of genetically modified foods was largely met with mistrust and skepticism. We must therefore ask: What factors affect societal acceptance of these technologies? The primary aim of this research project is to answer this question, focusing on potentially animal welfare enhancing gene-edited technologies as applied to dairy and beef cattle. Although our project will focus on these specific technologies, the larger objective is to better understand how novel gene-edited food technologies are likely to be perceived.

The proposed research will focus on understanding of perception, trust and adoption among all interested groups from farmers to consumers. The potential benefits of this project are as diverse as the stakeholders involved. A better understanding of perceptions towards gene-editing technologies may allow for improved communication efforts, and potentially result in enhanced trust in the food system. Moreover, Canadian food businesses will be able to more confidently predict which gene-editing technologies are likely find societal acceptance.