Open Access

Sequencing the salmon genome: A deliberative public engagement

Genomics, Society and Policy20106:15

DOI: 10.1186/1746-5354-6-1-15

Published: 15 April 2010

Abstract

Salmon genomics is an emerging field that represents a convergence between socially important scientific innovation and a politically volatile topic of significant interest to the public. These factors provide a strong rationale for public input. This report describes such input from a public engagement event based on the principles of deliberative democracy. The event involved a random, demographically stratified sample of 25 British Columbians (Canada). While some participants opposed sequencing the salmon genome on principle, on the whole participants responded favourably, citing the value of increased knowledge of human impacts on salmon, potentially slowing or reversing this impact, and assisting sustainable management of salmon resources. Participants discussed many of the potential implications of the sequencing project and formulated recommendations pertaining to regulations, international treaties, public education and engagement. Overall, the project illustrates that the specific design and implementation of this event is capable of producing sound policy advice from the general public on genomic-related issues.