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HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning

Genome editing - a game-changer in aquaculture: Conditions for social and moral acceptance

Alternative title: Genomredigering som endringsfaktor for akvakultur: Betingelser for sosial og moralsk aksept

Awarded: NOK 9.4 mill.

Fish farming is the most important Norwegian bioeconomy industry, but it is also controversial for ethical and environmental reasons. The basis for this food production is the salmon, an iconic animal in Norwegian culture. One promising approach to solving some of aquaculture?s production challenges, and to ensure higher value creation in aquaculture is using genome-editing techniques such as the CRISPR system. This emerging technology enables rapid and precise changes to the genetic basis of relevant salmon traits. However, unless it is introduced in a socially and morally acceptable way, in accordance with the principles of sustainability, promised improvements and solutions cannot be utilised. This project aims to determine the acceptability of genome edited salmon through an empirical ethics approach combining descriptive and normative studies. The project will study public views on the moral value of salmon and the demands for a sustainable aquaculture industry, as it is expressed in public documents, media and research. Focus group and interview studies of public and stakeholder views will make it possible to determine conditions for social acceptability of using genome editing in salmon farming. The empirical studies combined with academic texts on sustainability, animal and virtue ethics will provide an analysis of moral conditions for use of genome editing in aquaculture. The project will provide important knowledge for the aquaculture sector, for research on genome editing in animal husbandry, and for regulatory purposes. In addition, it will be relevant for academic debates on empirical ethics and animal ethics. During the second year, the project has gathered the empirical data and large part of the analysis, and arranged a digital workshop with the project partners. In addition, we have published two journal articles and four book chapters, participated in an international conference and a national user-oriented conference. In addition we have had a significant public dissemination activity, through op-eds blog posts on our website https://www.ntnu.edu/crispr-salmon, participation in public debate meetings and other dissemination activties.

Fish farming is the most important Norwegian bioeconomy industry, but it is also controversial for ethical and environmental reasons. The basis for this production of biomass for food is the salmon, an iconic animal in Norwegian culture. One promising approach to solving some of aquaculture’s production challenges, and to ensure higher value creation in aquaculture is using genome-editing techniques such as the CRISPR system. This emerging technology enables rapid and precise changes to the genetic basis of relevant salmon traits. However, unless it is introduced in a socially and morally acceptable way, promised improvements and solutions cannot be utilised. This project aims to determine the acceptability of genome edited salmon through an empirical ethics approach combining descriptive and normative studies. We have set up a relevant interdisciplinary research team supported by a network of national and international experts and industry representatives. The project will identify, by literature review and a foresight exercise with invited experts, the spectrum of present and future possibilities in genome editing salmon, as well as relevant ethical issues in this and other breeding approaches. We will study public views on the moral value of salmon and of human-salmon interactions as it is expressed in public documents, media and research. A focus group and interview study of public and stakeholder views on the acceptability of genome editing salmon will be conducted, in order to determine conditions for social acceptability of using the technology in salmon farming. Finally, an analysis of the moral acceptability will be conducted on the basis of the empirical studies and academic texts on animal and virtue ethics. The study will provide important input for the aquaculture sector, for research on genome editing in animal husbandry, and for regulatory purposes. In addition, it will be relevant for academic debates on empirical ethics and animal ethics.

Publications from Cristin

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Funding scheme:

HAVBRUK2-Stort program for havbruksforskning