Public attitudes toward genetic modification in dairy cattle

Autoři: Caroline Ritter aff001;  Adam Shriver aff001;  Emilie McConnachie aff001;  Jesse Robbins aff001;  Marina A. G. von Keyserlingk aff001;  Daniel M. Weary aff001
Působiště autorů: Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(12)
Kategorie: Research Article


Genetic modification has been used to create dairy cattle without horns and with increased resistance to disease; applications that could be beneficial for animal welfare, farm profits, and worker safety. Our aim was to assess how different stated purposes were associated with public attitudes toward these two applications using a mixed methods approach. Using an online survey, U.S. participants were randomly assigned to one of ten treatments in a 2 (application: hornless or disease-resistant) x 5 (purposes: improved animal welfare, reduced costs, increased worker safety, all three purposes, or no purpose) factorial design. Each participant was asked to read a short description of the assigned treatment (e.g. hornlessness to improve calf welfare) and then respond to a series of questions designed to assess attitude toward the treatment using 7-point Likert scales (1 = most negative; 7 = most positive). Responses of 957 participants were averaged to creative an attitude construct score. Participants were also asked to explain their response to the treatment. Qualitative analysis of these text responses was used to identify themes associated with the participants’ reasoning. Participant attitudes were more favorable to disease resistance than to hornlessness (mean ± SE attitude score: 4.5 ± 0.15 vs. 3.7 ± 0.14). In the ‘disease-resistance’ group participants had more positive attitudes toward genetic modification when the described purpose was animal welfare versus reduction of costs (contrast = 1.00; 95% CI = 0.12–1.88). Attitudes were less favorable to the ‘hornless’ application if no purpose was provided versus when the stated purpose was either to improve animal welfare (contrast = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.26–1.64) or when all purposes were provided (contrast = 0.88; 95% CI = 0.19–1.58). Similarly, attitudes were less positive when the stated purpose was to reduce costs versus either improving animal welfare (contrast = 0.86; 95% CI = 0.09–1.64) or when all purposes were provided (contrast = 0.79; 95% CI = 0.02–1.56). Quantitative and qualitative analysis indicated that both the specific application and perceived purpose (particularly when related to animal welfare) can affect public attitudes toward genetic modification.

Klíčová slova:

Animal welfare – Cattle – Genetic engineering – Genetics of disease – Livestock – Livestock care – Surveys – Veterinary diseases


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2019 Číslo 12
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