Cell-Cultured Meat: Lessons from GMO Adoption and Resistance
Jacy Reese Anthis
August 20, 2019

One of Sentience Institute’s goals is to help build the research literature on effective animal advocacy (EAA) and moral circle expansion (MCE). In early 2019, we started drafting papers to submit to peer-reviewed journals. The first of these papers, “Cell-Cultured Meat: Lessons from GMO Adoption and Resistance,” is now accepted at the journal Appetite.

This paper is, in a sense, a peer-reviewed proof-of-concept for our main line of research that attempts to draw strategic lessons from case studies of social movements and emerging technologies. We are excited to share it with our academic and non-academic audiences.


This article discusses the choices and strategies that can hasten or delay the adoption of novel food technologies. We start by examining how genetically-modified food became an object of controversy in the United States and Europe. Then, we present lessons suggested by the history of GMOs for cell-cultured meat adoption. The history of GMOs suggests at least eleven concrete lessons for cultured meat adoption that remain under-discussed in the literature. This paper’s findings diverge in several ways from received wisdom on cultured meat adoption. We argue, among other things, that genetic engineering firms understood their work to be humanitarian and environmentally-friendly and so were unprepared for popular backlash, that technology adoption is more readily affected by consumer activism when buyers in a supply chain exert more pressure on sellers than the reverse, and that focusing on the positive aspects of a technology is more successful for encouraging its adoption than responding to negative perceptions.

Author Accepted Manuscript / Preprint: https://www.sentienceinstitute.org/downloads/GMO-AAM.pdf

Appetite (paywalled): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0195666319304829

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