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Just Editing?

A comparative responsible innovation approach to animal genome editing

This research project by Wageningen University and Utrecht University develops a comparative responsible innovation approach to examine the conditions, if any, under which genome editing technology can and should be applied to animal breeding applications. 

On the one hand, genome editing in farming animals promises various benefits, including:

  • Improvements in productivity - for example by breeding animals that convert feed more efficiently into animal products
  • Improvements in animal welfare - for example by breeding cows that do not grow horns and thus do not have to be dehorned
  • Improvements in disease resistance - for example by breeding pigs that are resistant to African Swine Fever

On the other hand, however, this application of genome editing technology raises ethical and societal concerns. The question is therefore whether, and if so, under what conditions the technology can become embedded responsibly in society. 

Using the anticipate-include-reflect-respond (AIRR) framework, social scientists, ethicists, beta scientists, and breeding companies collaborate to anticipate, reflect on and respond to ethical and societal concerns about this technology.