Burning Questions
Fellowship Award Winners

Rachel A. Ankeny, Emily Buddle

Location: Australia
Academic field: Food production and consumption
Award category: PhD Team

Topics to be Addressed during the Award Period:

Could gene editing improve farm animal welfare in low- and middle- income countries?

  • Review existing research on: Farm animal welfare aspects in gene editing, community attitudes towards gene editing in agriculture, and regulation of genetic technologies, with particular attention to the context of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • How do various traits that have been mooted as being likely targets in gene editing in livestock animals may improve or negatively impact animal welfare? What socio-cultural influences may be relevant to the use and acceptability of gene editing technologies in LMICs?
  • Review in detail current regulatory mechanisms related to the use of gene technologies in three LMICs - Indonesia, India, and Egypt. (These countries have been selected as contrast cases and for their broader implications.)

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

  • Gene-editing is a new frontier and controversial topic in large-scale livestock production.
  • The three countries focused on are great choices: 1. Indonesia is a major destination for export of live farm animals, and represents a key locale where practices are shaped in part by religious views (particularly Islamic-related livestock production practices). 2. India is of interest as a rapidly growing LMIC where regulation in this domain occurs on a case-by-case basis; it is also among the largest producers of genetically modified products in Asia, and has quickly become the largest cattle producing country in the world. 3. Egypt uses substantial equivalence as the starting point when assessing safety (which holds that the safety of a new food should be assessed by comparing it with a similar traditional food that has proven safe in normal use over time), similar to non-LMICs such as the US and Canada. Furthermore, Egypt has been increasing its cattle production in recent years.
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