Gene editing is an emerging technology with diverse applications in the making, including in livestock. While the technology is commonly represented as offering unbounded possibilities and societal benefit, it remains unclear how to characterise public views and the process through which responses are developed. Rather than simply being about individual attitudes, beliefs or preferences, we explicate an interpretative approach that seeks to understand how people make sense of the technology in the form of shared cultural idioms and stories. Based on five anticipatory focus group discussions with Dutch publics, we found the prevalence of five narratives shaping public talk, namely, technological fix, the market rules, in pursuit of perfection, finding the golden mean and governance through care. We explore the implications of these findings for governance and reflect on the virtues of sophrosyne and phronesis as offering ways to reconfigure the practice and politics of gene editing.