Research ArticleSOCIAL SCIENCES

Does the U.S. public support using gene drives in agriculture? And what do they want to know?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  11 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaau8462
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau8462
  • Fig. 1 Support for gene drive use in agriculture.

    Note: Respondents were asked whether they support or oppose the use of gene drives to control agricultural insect pests in each of eight applications. (A) Condensed Likert response frequencies varying (i) whether the drive would reduce populations or alter populations to not carry a crop disease, (ii) whether controls are in place to limit the extent of drive spread, and (iii) whether the target species was native to an area. (B) 95% confidence intervals (CIs) shown for average marginal effects of estimates from a pooled ordered logit model with SEs clustered by respondent (full model tables 2 and 3, inclusion of respondent covariates in Table 1).

  • Fig. 2 Drive support and opposition by whether seeking non-GMO food.

    Note: Level of support and opposition to gene drive insect applications for seekers and nonseekers non-GMO–labeled food [95% CIs shown; suppression and replacement applications combined (see table S6)]. While those searching for non-GMO–labeled food are relatively less supportive and more likely to explicitly oppose drive applications (Table 1), a slight majority (53%) still support applications in non-native species with controls for drive spread with 26% opposing.

  • Fig. 3 Organic certification attitudes when drive insects present.

    Note: Level of agreement (with 95% CI) that a farmer should be able to retain organic certification in the presence of gene drive insects, among affirmed regular purchasers of certified organic food products (n = 228), by whether the respondent is aware that some types of insecticides are allowed under organic regulations (57% of regular organic consumers aware). Questions are asked separately by whether (A) gene drive insects are used in the area to control a damaging insect species or (B) that use of drive insects in results in genetically modified insect material “getting in or on crops.” **P < 5% and *P < 10% for adjusted Wald tests of equivalent response means.

  • Fig. 4 What does the public want to know about agricultural gene drives?

    Note: (A) FAQ selection. Voluntary respondent selection frequency from the seven-item FAQ list. Question wording is abbreviated for exposition; see the Supplementary Materials for the complete survey text. (B) Ranking uncertainties to resolve before use decisions. Respondents selected the “most important” and “least important” among iterative four-item subsets of the 10 alternatives to resolve “before deciding whether gene drive insects should be used to control pest damage to crops” (numbers denote statistical ranking via weighted least-squares regression and Wald tests of linear hypotheses; full item wording is found in note S4, WLS model results are found in table S7, and an example choice scenario is found in fig. S1).

  • Fig. 5 Trust in institutions to conduct research on gene drive agricultural pests.

    Note: Respondents indicated “how trustworthy [they] feel each type of institution would be conducting research on gene drive insects to control agricultural pests” (full question wording and raw data is found in table S8).

  • Table 1 Average marginal effects of gene drive attributes and respondent characteristics on support and FAQ selection.

    Note: Drive support estimated using a partial proportional odds (PPO)–ordered logit regression model and the margins command in Stata with compressed ordinal scale of oppose, neutral, or support and SEs clustered by respondent in parentheses. FAQ selection estimated using ordinary least squares. Additional regression specifications for these dependent variables in tables S3 to S5. McFadden’s R2 reported for the PPO-ordered logit regression and standard R2 for least squares. Includes survey sampling weights. ***P < 1%, **P < 5%, and *P < 10%.

    Marginal effect on probability of drive use positionNumber of FAQs selected
    OpposeNeitherSupport
    Gene drive attributes
    No controls for spread (versus controls)0.190*** (0.010)0.030*** (0.005)−0.220*** (0.011)
    Native species (versus non-native)0.089*** (0.009)0.032*** (0.007)−0.121*** (0.010)
    Suppression (versus replacement)0.016** (0.007)0.003** (0.001)−0.019** (0.008)
    Demographic variables
    Female0.034* (0.018)0.005* (0.003)−0.040* (0.021)0.427*** (0.149)
    Age−0.0004 (0.0005)−6.82 × 10−05 (8.41 × 10−05)0.0005 (0.0006)0.003 (0.004)
    White0.044* (0.024)−0.059** (0.026)0.015 (0.026)−0.554*** (0.163)
    Income−0.003 (0.002)−0.0005 (0.0004)0.003 (0.003)0.013 (0.019)
    Lives in “metro” area−0.012 (0.033)−0.002 (0.005)0.014 (0.037)0.060 (0.230)
    Highest postsecondary education
    No college (base level)
    Some college or associate degree0.029 (0.027)−0.112*** (0.031)0.083*** (0.030)0.356* (0.182)
    Bachelor degree0.094*** (0.032)−0.183*** (0.031)0.089*** (0.033)0.518** (0.210)
    Graduate degree0.098*** (0.034)−0.182*** (0.033)0.085** (0.036)0.323 (0.228)
    Religiosity scale−0.003 (0.002)−0.0005 (0.0004)0.003 (0.003)0.018 (0.020)
    Consumption variables
    Primary shopper−0.046** (0.022)−0.007* (0.004)0.054** (0.025)0.354** (0.175)
    Buys blueberries−0.038** (0.019)−0.006* (0.003)0.044** (0.022)0.279 (0.154)
    Buys orange juice−0.037** (0.018)−0.006** (0.003)0.042** (0.021)0.064* (0.155)
    Buys “local” foods0.054** (0.022)−0.061*** (0.022)0.007 (0.023)0.238 (0.147)
    Buys “USDA-organic” foods0.020 (0.023)0.003 (0.004)−0.024 (0.027)0.372* (0.202)
    Seeks “non-GMO”–labeled foods0.076*** (0.025)0.012*** (0.004)−0.088*** (0.029)0.372* (0.203)
    Constant1.826*** (0.432)
    Respondents10001001
    Observations79971001
    (McFadden’s) R20.07230.092
    Wald test P value for joint significance
    Drive attributesP < 0.0001
    Demographic variablesP < 0.0001P = 0.0007
    Consumption variablesP < 0.0001P < 0.0001

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary material for this article is available at http://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/5/9/eaau8462/DC1

    Note S1. Full informational text and illustration materials

    Note S2. Full FAQ wording

    Note S3. Support or opposition to organic certification with gene drive insects

    Note S4. Ranking gene drive uncertainties to resolve before use decisions—Question construction

    Note S5. Focus group guide

    Table S1. Sample details.

    Table S2. Raw data from general Likert responses.

    Table S3. Regression analysis of general gene drive Likert responses: Three-level Likert aggregation, PPO-ordered logit model.

    Table S4. Regression analysis of general gene drive Likert responses: Five-level Likert aggregation, PPO-ordered logit model.

    Table S5. Demographic and consumption correlates with number of FAQs selected.

    Table S6. Tests for combining suppression and replacement in subgroup analysis.

    Table S7. Ranking most important gene drive questions.

    Table S8. Trust in institutions to conduct research on gene drive agricultural pests.

    Table S9. OLS robustness check for three- and five-level gene drive attitude Likert questions.

    Table S10. Estimates with and without endogenous FAQ selection, verify if specific FAQ info influenced gene drive attitudes.

    Fig. S1. BWS question example.

  • Supplementary Materials

    This PDF file includes:

    • Note S1. Full informational text and illustration materials
    • Note S2. Full FAQ wording
    • Note S3. Support or opposition to organic certification with gene drive insects
    • Note S4. Ranking gene drive uncertainties to resolve before use decisions—Question construction
    • Note S5. Focus group guide
    • Table S1. Sample details.
    • Table S2. Raw data from general Likert responses.
    • Table S3. Regression analysis of general gene drive Likert responses: Three-level Likert aggregation, PPO-ordered logit model.
    • Table S4. Regression analysis of general gene drive Likert responses: Five-level Likert aggregation, PPO-ordered logit model.
    • Table S5. Demographic and consumption correlates with number of FAQs selected.
    • Table S6. Tests for combining suppression and replacement in subgroup analysis.
    • Table S7. Ranking most important gene drive questions.
    • Table S8. Trust in institutions to conduct research on gene drive agricultural pests.
    • Table S9. OLS robustness check for three- and five-level gene drive attitude Likert questions.
    • Table S10. Estimates with and without endogenous FAQ selection, verify if specific FAQ info influenced gene drive attitudes.
    • Fig. S1. BWS question example.

    Download PDF

    Files in this Data Supplement:

Navigate This Article