Consumers' perceptions and acceptance of genome editing in agriculture: Insights from the United States of America and Switzerland

Angela Bearth, Caitlin Drummond Otten, Alex Segrè Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The terms “New Genomic Techniques” (NGTs) or “Genome Editing” refer to various methods that allow finding, cleaving, and repairing specific sequences in the genome. These techniques could contribute to managing various challenges in plant breeding and agriculture. Aside from regulatory uncertainties, the lack of consumer acceptance has frequently been cited as a significant barrier to the widespread use of NGTs in plant breeding and agriculture across the planet. This study was based on an anonymous online survey (N = 1202). It investigated what consumers from two countries that differ in gene technology regulation, namely the United States of America and Switzerland, thought about three specific applications of NGTs in plant breeding (i.e., blight-resistant potato, gluten-free wheat, cold-resistant soybean). The study highlights the importance of the affect heuristic for acceptance, as half of the participants in both countries expressed positive feelings regarding the three applications, a quarter of the participants expressed negative, and the remaining participants expressed torn or neutral emotions. Some evidence was provided that the regulatory context might have acted as a risk cue, as participants in Switzerland expressed more negative feelings, perceptions, and lower acceptance than participants from the United States of America. Lastly, our findings underscore the importance of a collaboration between the life sciences and social sciences in balancing technological innovations and public perceptions and acceptance, which have been shown in this study to be impacted by affect, values, and context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113982
JournalFood Research International
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Acceptance
  • Consumer behavior
  • Genome editing
  • New genomic techniques
  • Perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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