Risks of nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics? What the scientists say
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- Hurlimann, T., Menuz, V., Graham, J. et al. Genes Nutr (2014) 9: 370. doi:10.1007/s12263-013-0370-6
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Nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics (hereafter NGx) have stimulated expectations for beneficial applications in public health and individuals. Yet, the potential achievability of such promise is not without socioethical considerations that challenge NGx implementation. This paper focuses on the opinions of NGx researchers about potential risks raised by NGx. The results of an online survey show that these researchers (n = 126) are fairly confident about the potential benefits of NGx, and that most downplay its potential risks. Researchers in this field do not believe that NGx will reconfigure foods as medication or transform the conception of eating into a health hazard. The majority think that NGx will produce no added burden on individuals to get tested or to remain compliant with NGx recommendations, nor that NGx will threaten individual autonomy in daily food choice. The majority of researchers do not think that NGx will lead to discrimination against and/or stigmatization of people who do not comply with NGx dietary recommendations. Despite this optimism among NGx researchers, we suggest that key risk factors raised by the socioethical context in which NGx applications will be implemented need to be considered.