A CRISPR bite podcast »
Genome editing, or gene editing, is a form of genetic modification that aims to change organisms’ functions by adding, deleting, changing or replacing sequences of DNA. Today, the most well-known form of genome editing is CRISPR-Cas9. It has been described as more precise, faster, and less invasive than earlier technologies for genetic modification. Some researchers place significant hopes on that this technology will revolutionize agriculture, reduce environmental impact, and provide resilience against climate change. Others voice ethical and risk concerns, or see these hopes as misdirected or inflated.
In the Public Perceptions Hub we investigate what role genome editing is given in emerging debates on agriculture and food. The public debate over genome editing in agriculture is very much in its infancy: this technology is barely on the public radar and very few people have strong opinions for or against this new technology. In situations when new technologies emerge, a useful strategy for identifying emerging debates is to look to media. It the Public Perceptions Hub we therefore focus specifically on how genome editing is emerging as a topic of interest on the social media platform Twitter. Through a social network analysis, we aim to identify who the key actors engaging in the debate are, whom they are influenced by and influence, and how key actors are connected with key topics in the debate.
Another strand of our research is to focus in on the crucial role played by scientists in shaping the public debate as well as the role given to the public in the emerging debate.
A CRISPR bite podcast
How gene-editing technology is changing our food
CRISPR gene-editing technology came out as a massive biotech breakthrough in the last decade, but most people have still never heard of it. In this series, food anthropologist Dr. Lauren Crossland-Marr takes listeners into the labs where researchers are tinkering with food genes, to help break down the problems they’re hoping to solve – and what’s at stake.
The first episode of A CRISPR Bite will be released on 27 September, 2023. Each episode in the 5-episode series focuses on a specific agricultural product—tomatoes, soy, wine and cattle—as a lens through which we tackle the major economic, ethical, and social questions arising from new gene technologies like CRISPR and TALEN.
We interview experts and investigate this genetic revolution—how these technologies work, key players in the vast patent and policy debate, and what changes consumers can expect to see on our plates in the next few years.
A CRISPR Bite is supported by the Jean Monnet Network, which is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union through the GEAP-3 Network of scientists. This podcast does not reflect the views of our funders.
Episode 3: “Soy” - Release Date: 11 October, 2023
Listen to all episodes on Apple Podcasts »
Published within the project
Crossland-Marr, L., et al. (2023). "Siloed discourses: a year-long study of twitter engagement on the use of CRISPR in food and agriculture." New Genetics and Society 42(1): e2248363.
Gene editing technologies are emerging as powerful tools for agricultural development, spurring both hopes and concerns in society. In this article we analyse how actors form their arguments and connect with each other on Twitter (X) concerning the topic of the role of new gene editing technologies such as CRISPR in food and agriculture. Scientists are the most active and best networked in the debate. They promote a positive image of CRISPR gene editing and actively work to strengthen their network. Civil society actors voice skepticism towards the technology and sometimes questions scientists’ claims, but without eliciting responses from the scientists. We conclude that emerging discourse coalitions forming around the topic of CRISPR in food and agriculture on Twitter are siloed, with limited interaction between contrasting perspectives.
The CRISPR agriculture Twitter network map depicting the most re-tweeted tweets between January-December 2021. The color of the nodes represent the different actor groups identified by the authors. The size of each node corresponds to its degree centrality.