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Genome editing and responsible innovation, can they be reconciled?

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Early online date8 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2019


Genome editing is revolutionising the field of genetics, which includes novel applications to food animals. Responsible research and innovation (RRI) has been advocated as a way of ensuring that a wider-range of stakeholders and publics are able to engage with new and emerging technologies to inform decision making from their perspectives and values. We posit that genome editing is now proceeding at such a fast rate, and in so many different directions, such as to overwhelm attempts to achieving a more reflective pace. An alternative location for reflection is during the much slower process of taking products from the lab to market. We suggest emphasising Responsible Innovation, putting the ‘I’ back into RRI, and encouraging companies to embrace an RRI approach. We review some previous attempts at developing industry-relevant frameworks for RRI. We then describe two examples of genome editing in livestock; hornless cattle and disease resistant pigs, and reflect on the sorts of questions that could be considered in these two genome editing examples. This paper seeks to take forward the discussion on RRI by extending it to bringing products to market in the context of genome edited livestock.

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