Date of Graduation

12-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Lawton L. Nalley

Committee Member

Hans de Steur

Second Committee Member

Aaron M. Shew

Keywords

CRISPR drivers and barriers, CRISPR gene editing, Gene editing agriculture, Plant sciences, Plant scientists perceptions, Prospects CRISPR in Agriculture

Abstract

The introduction of CRISPR gene editing into food crops has potential to contribute to food security and sustainable food production globally. To date, most scientific studies have focused on consumer perception of CRISPR gene edited foods or the potential benefits and risks of the CRISPR technology and none have focused on the perceptions of plant scientists concerning CRISPR gene editing. This study aimed to explore the investments, functions, barriers, benefits for specific crops and beneficiaries of CRISPR gene editing according to plant scientists, by distributing an online survey in which 1,040 plant scientists active across six continents and in both the public and private sector participated. By asking the respondents the current (and envisioned future) percentage of the total research and development that is spend on CRISPR gene editing, we found that relative investments in CRISPR gene editing are expected to increase in the next ten years in all continents and in both the public and private sector. Moreover, plant scientists expect that fungus resistance and virus resistance are the functions most likely to be implemented using CRISPR technology. Consumer perceptions/knowledge gap and policy/legal issues were perceived as the most impeding barriers of CRISPR adoption globally, where intellectual property rights issues are a major impediment in high-income countries and high development costs in low-income countries. Maize and soybean are expected to benefit the most from CRISPR gene editing across all regions, except for Oceania. Wheat, rice and potatoes are other crops in which plant scientists see potential to benefit from the CRISPR technology. Increased yields are expected to be the biggest beneficiary of CRISPR gene editing, where public scientists also see producer profits as an important beneficiary of the technology. Importantly, plant scientists are reluctant to the idea of CRISPR gene editing being regulated in a similar way as GM crops and expect the private sector to dominate the CRISPR market. The consensus among plant scientists is that CRISPR technology can contribute significantly to the enhancement of environmental sustainability and food insecurity issues.

Share

COinS