Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Maria Cristina Yunes

Location: Brazil
Academic field: Agriculture ecosystem
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title: “Building bridges to promote sustainable livestock systems: Opinions of stakeholders in Brazil towards gene editing of farm animals”
  • Keywords: Brazil. Farm animals. Gene editing. Opinion survey.
  • DOI: 10.15868/socialsector.39149
  • What We Learned From It:
    • In a survey undertaken to better understand opinions of gene editing’s biotechnology’s potential and perceived benefits (particularly on animal welfare, disease resistance, resilience to external stressors such as hot climate, productivity) according to laypersons, farmers, and professionals involved with livestock production in Brazil, it is found that they have different opinions about applying this biotechnology to farm animals.
    • The acceptability of gene editing in farm animals is lower for the public and higher in farmers and persons in professions involved with livestock. The main concerns for those surveyed are: Unknown side effects; unsure of who will benefit; ethical limits of this biotechnology’s use. On the other hand, improvements in animal welfare, farmers’ quality of life, and productivity are the chief perceived benefits.
    • Three key messages and recommendations: 1) Those closely associated with livestock production are open to using biotechnology to solve problems they face, but lay citizens prefer production systems that they consider to be more natural and animal-friendly. 2) Most stakeholders agree that animal welfare legislation is important in livestock production in Brazil, and labeling should be required for gene-edited products. 3) Policies and actual use of gene editing in farm animals must be based on the results of open, informed dialogues that truly allow all stakeholders’ voices to be heard, and facilitated by parties trusted by stakeholders such as scientists in universities.


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Gene editing is a fast-developing technology that has the potential to seriously impact industrial farm animal production (for better or worse).
  • The applicant’s recognition of the need to understand the views of those working in the livestock industry in order to improve the welfare of farm animals and to have constructive discussions among all stakeholders.
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