How to talk to consumers about gene edited food

The Center for Food Integrity has several ways to talk to consumers about gene-editing of food. Their research last year showed 50% of consumers surveyed had not heard about gene editing but more than half wanted to learn more. Amy tePlate-Church says one conversation starter with consumers stresses the technology’s benefits.

“Gene editing makes precise, intentional and beneficial changes in the genetic material of plants and animals which can improve health, nutrition and environmental stewardship.”

Another is leading with human health.

“Gene editing shows great potential to cure or prevent disease in humans and gene editing can also help plants and animals resist disease.”

And, she says, leveraging scientific experts and farmers resonates with consumers.

“Consumers often support the use of technology when they understand and believe that that technology helps farmers. They want to see farmers succeed.”

TePlate-Church says it’s best not to lead with productivity advantages of gene-edited foods UNLESS consumers are also told that farmers are producing more food with less or with fewer natural resources.

There are two foods from the U.S. – canola oil and high-oleic soybean oil – that are gene-edited using an older technology – not the newer CRISPR technology. Researchers say those are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s coming.

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