Gene Edited Foods Project

This project’s goal is to identify key inducements and impediments to public trust of gene edited foods (GEFs) and their governance. Our project involves an interdisciplinary team of experts from Iowa State University (ISU) and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).

This work was funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Social Implications of Emerging Technologies, Grant # 2018-67023-27679

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March 2023: We’re happy to announce two recent publications in top social science journals. Drawing on our US public survey data, Sonja Lindberg, Dr. Dave Peters, and Dr. Christopher Cummings recently published “Gene-EditedFood Adoption Intentions and Institutional Trust in the United States: Benefits, Acceptance, and Labeling” in Rural Sociology. Sonja Lindberg, Dr. Carmen Bain, and Dr. Theresa Selfa also recently published an article in Sociologia Ruralis titled “Regulating Gene Editing in Agriculture and Food in the European Union: Disentangling Expectations and Path Dependencies.”

Sonja has worked as the GEF Project graduate assistant since its inception in 2018. She will soon complete her PhD in Rural Sociology at Iowa State. Sonja would like to express sincere gratitude to USDA-NIFA for the funding that made pursuit of her degree possible. In addition, she would like to extend a big “THANK YOU!” to the GEF research team for providing excellent mentorship and many opportunities to build her research and professional skillsets.

August 2022: As part of the GEF Project, a deliberative workshop was held February, 2022, in Washington DC with diverse GEF stakeholders. The goal was to foster an opportunity for transparent communication between stakeholders to our research project and findings. Participants then identifed data and information needs for future research trajectories that would best inform future stakeholder work in developing socially acceptable and inclusive modes of public engagement and governance frameworks related to GEF. The Deliverative Workshop Report is now available.

July 2022: Our research continues to attract attention. On July 8th, 2022, Dr. Peters’ and Dr. Cummings’ GEF survey findings were featured in the Friday Notes e-bulletin sent out weekly by CAST, the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology. Additionally, on July 6th, Food Business News included a short article on key GEF survey findings. Click here to read the news article.

The Gene Edited Foods team is proud to announce that Dr. Theresa Selfa worked with Dr. Catherine Kendig and Dr. Paul B. Thompson to publish a letter titled “Biotechnology Ethics for Food and Agriculture” in the June 17, 2022 edition of Science, a prestigious and widely read interdisciplinary journal. Click here to read the letter.

July 2022: The Gene Edited Foods project was mentioned in the July 6, 2022 USDA-National Institute of Food (NIFA) weekly e-bulletin NIFA Update.

As of July 6, 2022, the Gene Edited Foods team members have contributed to five publications already during the 2022 calendar year (see the Publications and Presentations page for links to articles). Several additional articles are under review in journals. Led by Dr. Christopher Cummings, the team has also organized and edited a special issue in Science, Technology, and Human Values. The special issue highlights much of the research presented in the GEF Virtual Conference in 2020. Check back soon for updates on the special issue and its articles.

A June 2022 Iowa State University News Release features Dr. David Peters’ and Dr. Christopher Cummings’ survey findings on public acceptance and trust surrounding GEAF. A key finding is that an individual’s likelihood of eating or avoiding gene-edited foods is largely driven by their social values and how much they trust government, industry, and environmental groups. Click here to read the news release.

On February 28, 2022, the Gene Edited Foods Project team facilitated a participatory deliberative workshop in Washington, D.C. The workshop sought to engage a diverse group of key stakeholders from academia, food and biotech industries, policy institutes, and environmental and consumer NGOs to provide an ‘upstream’ appraisal of our research findings and to highlight key priorities to inform inclusive governance approaches. Our aim was to foster a collaborative and respectful environment where we could deliberate about how best to approach current and future applications and governance of GEAF.

Researchers Dr. Theresa Selfa and Dr. Christopher Cummings were interviewed by Scripps National News. They discussed some of the governance and social tensions surrounding gene edited foods. The short video segment can be viewed by clicking here.

Dr. Theresa Selfa was awarded a National Science Foundation grant to conduct a cross-country comparison of key stakeholder perceptions related to GEF. Click here to read the project abstract, or click here to read an interview with Dr. Selfa about the project.