Perceived Acceptability of Implementing Marker-Assisted Selection in the Forests of British Columbia Nilausen, Chelsea; Gélinas, Nancy; Bull, Gary
The forest sector in British Columbia (BC) has faced a number of challenges over the past decade. In response to some of those challenges, the government has invested in forest genomic tools. Marker-assisted selection (MAS) is a biotechnological tool that flags desired traits on the genome. This tool may assist tree breeders with the early selection of preferred genotypes, reducing the breeding cycle and more accurately and efficiently selecting for improved qualities. However, there is a poor understanding of the perceived acceptability of implementing MAS. Semi-structured interviews and a questionnaire were employed across participants categorized into four groups. It was found that government and industry participants held positive perceptions towards MAS, supporting its use and continued research in BC, and identifying its benefits in forest regeneration and to tree breeders. Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) and First Nations attitudes lay between neutral and negative. Concerns were most strongly focused on environmental impacts, ecosystem degradation, and reduced genetic diversity, while identified benefits were specific to tree breeders and improved tree resiliency. It was concluded that before MAS can be successfully implemented, an appropriate setting must first be established through improved knowledge of biotechnology and its applications, well-defined policies, and strengthened engagement and consultation with First Nations.
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