New study on gene editing in wildlife finds people are wary

phys.org | 11/16/2017 | Staff
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The applications of CRISPR based genetic engineering tools range from changing colors in butterfly wings to developing gene therapies that might one day cure or prevent human diseases.

Some scientists are also setting their sights on new uses—saving endangered species and possibly eliminating invasive ones to manage wildlife populations for conservation.

University - Central - Florida - Researcher - Colleagues

However, a University of Central Florida researcher and her colleagues have found that people living in the U.S. are wary of using this technology to achieve wildlife conservation goals.

And this insight is important, as new technology and procedures launched without public input can face backlash later.

Findings - Month - Journal - Conservation - Biology

The findings were published this month in the journal Conservation Biology and made available ahead of publication in March 2019.

The research represents the first large-scale, systematic survey of U.S. public opinion toward using gene editing for conservation efforts.

Scientists - Lot - Modification - Crops - Patrice

"I think scientists learned a lot from what has occurred with genetic modification of crops," says Patrice Kohl, an assistant professor in UCF's Nicholson School of Communication and Media and lead author of the study.

"In the 1990s, biotechnology companies rolled out genetically modified crops without any public input, and there was fierce public pushback in response to that. So, I think there is a lot of interest among scientists in avoiding that happening again."

CRISPR - Repeats - Method - Engineering - Scissors

CRISPR, or clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is a fast and inexpensive method of genetic engineering that can be used almost like "scissors" to edit DNA without introducing foreign genetic material.

It has also enabled scientists to develop gene drives, a technique that would allow a genetic edit to spread rapidly throughout a wildlife population.

Fields - Research - Nanotechnology - Gene - Humans

Compared with other emerging fields of research, such as nanotechnology and using gene editing in humans, there has been little public opinion research on gene editing in wildlife, Kohl says.

And understanding public opinion on this emerging technology is not only important for...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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