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The US NIFA invests in research on the implications of gene editing technologies in agriculture
The objective of these studies is to respond to the controversy that exists on the part of society about this type of practices.

Wheat harvest. /Photo: USDA ARS.

The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Saturday awards to advance research on public commitment and the implications of genetic drive and other gene editing technologies. Funding is possible through the initiative of Social Implications of Emerging Technologies within the area of ​​programs of Agriculture and Rural Communities (AERC) of NIFA.

"Recent advances in gene-editing technologies promise opportunities to meet the challenges that come with a rapidly growing world population," said NIFA Acting Director Tom Shanower. "However, these advances also raise important questions about their acceptability and potential unintended impacts, which is why NIFA created the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies program in 2017 to fund research on public and stakeholder engagement with momentum. genetic and other genetic editing techniques for agricultural use ".

A University of Florida project will define consumer preferences for regulation and consumption of foods derived from genetically modified crops and determine the most effective way to communicate about gene-editing technology to educate consumers. Researchers at Iowa State University will identify the key incentives and impediments to public confidence in genetically modified foods and their management.

A project of the Institute of Sciences of Santa Fe has three immediate objectives: to develop a quantitative theoretical framework to model complex sociocognitive processes that are applied to the particular context of genetically modified crops; use the framework to develop research hypotheses; and tests the predictions in a longitudinal experimental study in a national sample. Texas A & M University will evaluate the environment for public and stakeholder participation around the possible research, development and use of gene control technology in the control of agricultural pests in Texas.

The subsidies announced for a total of approximately 2 million dollars are the following:
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $ 466,202.
  • Iowa State University of Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, $ 494,513.
  • Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $ 499,693.
  • Texas A & M University, College Station, Texas, $ 497,397.
The AERC program is possible through the NIFA Agricultural and Food Research Initiative program, authorized by the 2014 Agricultural Law. It is compatible with rigorous social science projects, including research and analysis of behavior and economics that inform decision making and the design of policies to improve the sustainability of agricultural production systems and related activities in rural areas to protect the environment, improve the quality of life and alleviate poverty.

NIFA reviews all accepted proposals in its competitive grant programs through an external peer review process in which a panel of experts from the respective field in question participates. Specific details about panel meetings, review formats, and evaluation criteria may vary among programs.

NIFA's mission is to invest and advance in agricultural research, education and extension to solve social challenges. NIFA's investments in transformational science directly support the long-term prosperity and global pre-eminence of US agriculture.

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