New applications of genomics techniques in soil ecology may provide people with fresh insights into the richness of microbial life forms and natural methods to build on the "self-cleaning capacity" of soils. Because genetic modification might also be involved, this paper examines people's judgments about some applications, using a theory on the promotion- or prevention-orientations that they may associate with interventions in the natural world. A prevention-oriented way of thinking was hypothesized to correspond with a preference for more restrictions on a GM application, unless the person appreciates the application's benefits for nature restoration. Survey data agreed with the hypotheses and clarified the way in which people may talk about "nature knows best" or "nature needs a little help." © The Author(s), 2010.