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Social Acceptability of Cisgenic Plants: Public Perception, Consumer Preferences, and Legal Regulation

ORCID
0000-0001-5530-371X
Affiliation
Science, Technology and Society (STS) Unit, Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria
Dayé, Christian;
ORCID
0000-0003-2039-3553
Affiliation
Science, Technology and Society (STS) Unit, Institute of Interactive Systems and Data Science, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria
Spök, Armin;
ORCID
0000-0003-1944-7067
Affiliation
New Cultivar Innovation, Plant & Food Research, and University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Allan, Andrew C.;
ORCID
0000-0001-6175-199X
Affiliation
International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan
Yamaguchi, Tomiko;
GND
1058993283
ORCID
0000-0002-0423-5128
Affiliation
Julius Kühn-Institute (JKI), Institute for Biosafety in Plant Biotechnology, Germany
Sprink, Thorben

Part of the rationale behind the introduction of the term cisgenesis was the expectation that due to the “more natural” character of the genetic modification, cisgenic plants would be socially more acceptable than transgenic ones. This chapter assesses whether this expectation was justified. It thereby addresses three arenas of social acceptability: public perception, consumer preferences, and legal regulation. Discussing and comparing recent studies from four geographical areas across the globe—Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand—the chapter shows that the expectation was justified, and that cisgenic plants are treated as being more acceptable than other forms of genetic modification. Yet, there are considerable differences across the three arenas of social acceptability. In Australia, Canada, and the United States of America, the legal regulation of cisgenic plants is less restrictive than in Europe, Japan, and New Zealand. Also, the public perceptions are rather diverse across these countries, as are the factors that are deemed most influential in informing public opinion and consumer decisions. While people in North America appear to be most interested in individual benefits of the products (improved quality, health aspects), Europeans are more likely to accept cisgenic plants and derived products if they have a proven environmental benefit. In New Zealand, in contrast, the potential impact of cisgenic plants on other, more or less related markets, like meat export and tourism, is heavily debated. We conclude with some remarks about a possible new arrangement between science and policy that may come about with a new, or homogenized, international regulatory regime.

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License Holder: The Author(s) 2023

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