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Synthetic biology applied in the agrifood sector: Public perceptions, attitudes and implications for future studies

Lookup NU author(s): Shan Jin, Dr Beth ClarkORCiD, Dr Sharron Kuznesof, Professor Lynn FrewerORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Elsevier Ltd, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


BackgroundSynthetic biology is an emerging multidisciplinary area of research with the potential to deliver various novel agrifood applications. Its long-term adoption and commercialisation will depend on the extent to which the public accept synthetic biology and its different applications.Scope and approachA mapping review of existing research on public perceptions of, and attitudes towards, synthetic biology and its applications to agriculture and food production was conducted. This enabled an overview of current knowledge about public perceptions and attitudes to be developed, and current research gaps to be identified.Key findings and conclusionsAlthough some risk-related and ethical concerns were raised by the public, there was little evidence showing that people had an inherently negative perception of synthetic biology. The results demonstrated the importance of perceived benefits, perceived risks and ethical issues in shaping public acceptance of synthetic biology applied to agrifood production. Where analysis focused on specific applications, people tended to be more positive about medical and environmental applications compared to those in the agrifood sector. This is also the case for other areas of technology application, such as nanotechnology and genetic modification. However, at present, the literature is focused on synthetic biology as an enabling technology rather than on its specific applications. Given some evidence that people's attitudes varied by product types, more research on specific applications is therefore needed to further investigate public attitudes and co-develop societal preferences for agrifood products.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jin S, Clark B, Kuznesof S, Lin X, Frewer LJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Trends in Food Science and Technology

Year: 2019

Volume: 91

Pages: 454-466

Print publication date: 01/08/2019

Online publication date: 12/08/2019

Acceptance date: 01/10/2019

Date deposited: 03/10/2019

ISSN (print): 0924-2244

ISSN (electronic): 1879-3053

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.tifs.2019.07.025


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