Date of Award
Master of Science
Gene editing technologies in agriculture (GETA), and especially CRISPR, are promising new agricultural biotechnologies that are expected to revolutionize agriculture. The scientists developing and applying GETA will influence what types of traits are created and in what foods. They may also influence public acceptance and perceptions of GETA. However, debates around GMOs have demonstrated that publics’ have diverse concerns about agricultural biotechnologies beyond science, such as the social, political, and ethical risks and benefits of GMOs. Scientists that acknowledge the legitimacy of publics’ non-scientific knowledge, concerns, and rationalities may help mitigate potential tensions that arise around GETA.
Using empirical data collected through in-depth interviews with 20 GETA scientists in both industry and academia, this study examines how scientists perceive the risks and benefits associated with GETA, and whether scientists demonstrate reflexive scientization. I apply Ulrich Beck’s sociological concept of primary and reflexive scientization to assess if the traditional institutional norms and beliefs remain dominant. My findings suggest that GETA scientists largely remain in the phase of primary scientization, which privileges scientific knowledge while dismissing the legitimacy of non-scientific knowledge and concerns. Scientists’ values, attitudes, norms, and beliefs around GETA are influenced by the institutional culture of science. Based on the literature, I argue that the institution of science surrounding GETA may remain unreflexive due to financial and other constraints.
Lindberg, Sonja, "Scientists’ perspectives on the risks and benefits of gene editing technologies in agriculture: Assessing for reflexive scientization" (2019). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 17499.