Heliyon. 2023 Aug 16;9(8):e19173. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e19173. eCollection 2023 Aug.
Costa Rica’s rice production, a large determinant of the country’s food security, is being negatively impacted by frequently increasing periods of intense drought. Costa Rican scientists have applied CRISPR/Cas9 to develop drought resistant rice varieties they believe the country’s rice producers could benefit from. However, would Costa Ricans consume gene edited rice or products derived from this crop? A three-part, 26-question survey administered in-person to 1096 Costa Ricans uncovers their attitudes, knowledge, and perceptions of gene editing technology and crops. Multiple regressions were built where the independent variables were age, gender, education level, and subjective economic situation. No statistically significant relationships were found in the regression coefficients. Moreover, the k-means procedure (cluster analysis) was used to categorize respondents according to their attitudes on the consumption of gene-edited foods: negative, neutral, and positive. Results show that overall, Costa Rican consumers are open to the application of gene editing in agriculture and would consider consuming products derived from the application of the technology. They are also open to gene editing technology being used to address human and animal health issues. However, Costa Rican consumers are not open to gene editing being used to “design” human traits. This study adds evidence to the emerging literature on the acceptance of gene-edited food. It also highlights the importance of informing societies of just how vulnerable agriculture, and therefore food security, is to the increasingly adverse effects of climate change.