Socioeconomic Impact of Genome Editing on Agricultural Value Chains: The Case of Fungal-Resistant and Coeliac-Safe Wheat
Genome editing (GE) is gaining increasing importance in plant breeding, since it provides opportunities to develop improved crops with high precision and speed. However, little is known about the socioeconomic impact of genome editing on agricultural value chains. This qualitative study analyzes how genome-edited crops could affect agriculture value chains. Based on the hypothetical case of producing and processing fungal-resistant and coeliac-safe wheat in Germany, we conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with associations and companies operating in the value chains of wheat. A value chain analysis and qualitative content analysis were combined to assess the costs and benefits of the crops studied along the value chains of wheat. The results show that the use of fungal-resistant and coeliac-safe wheat can provide benefits at each step of the value chains. Fungal-resistant wheat benefits actors by reducing the problems and costs resulting from fungal-diseases and mycotoxins. Coeliac-safe wheat benefits actors by producing high value-added products, which can be safely consumed by patients suffering from coeliac disease. However, the results also show that low acceptance of GE by society and food retailers poses a significant barrier for the use of genome-edited crops in agricultural value chains.