Cloned animal food products and Consumer behaviour
Authors: Dr. H. R. Meena, Priyajoy Kar and A. P. Verma
Dairy Extension Division ICAR-NDRI, Karnal-132001
Animal cloning offers great opportunity in term of benefits to consumers, farmers, and endangered species. By means of cloning farmers-producers accelerate the reproduction of their most productive livestock in order to better produce, safe and healthy food product. Cloning reproduces the healthiest animals, thus minimizing the use of antibiotics on diseases, growth hormones and other chemicals. Consumers can benefit from cloning because meat and milk will be more healthful, consistent and safe. Most of the foods from cloning will be from the offspring of clones that are not clones themselves, but sexually reproduced animals. Cloning can be used to protect endangered species. The FDA science-based risk assessment which was peer reviewed by a group of independent scientific in cloning and animal health concluded; that cloning poses no risks to animal health compared to the risks found with other reproduction methods including natural mating, the composition of food products from cattle, swine and goat clones and offspring of any other animal clones is no different from that of conventionally bred animals, there are no additional risks to people eating food from cattle, swine, and goat clones.
Animal food products and consumer behaviour
The consumer is increasingly involved in and influencing the whole food chain of agriculture and allied science. Food safety crises and livestock epizooties have shaken both consumers and political confidence in animal sciences and the meat chain at large. Haringtons (1994) listed consumer concerns like ethical, food safety, nutrition and fat, animal welfare. The agriculture and food industries, including fish, animal farming and agricultural science, must not avoid the debate, since consumers expect to be more involved in a dialogue concerning the issues that affect or could affect their lives (Moore, 2000).
Perceptions of public on food products derived from cloned animals
Consumer confidence about the safety of animal food product they purchase is in part influenced by their risk perceptions, behaviour, trust in industry and regulating agencies. Violet and Goddard (2012) reported that general trust influences consumers risk perceptions and risk attitudes. Consumer trust in food safety could be engendered by the synergistic interplay of industry and public agencies have responsibility of ensuring food safety. In 2008, U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved food products related to cloned animals, claiming that a label is not necessary to distinguish food products linked to animals because there is no difference between them (FDA, 2008). Cloning can be an effective mean to secure food and nutritional security in a developing country like India. In India, NDRI, Karnal is the prestigious institute in developing the animal clones. NDRI has produced different clones of buffalo and goat. It can ensure producing more number of calves per year. IVF and hand guided cloning technology is generally used to develop these clones in India which is second world's most populate county, cloning can be an effective mean for meeting the specific demands for milk and meat. In India, cloning technology has not been very much popularized but in future perspective it is the need of the hour. Cloned food products have not yet entered the market in India. But the essence of second white revolution generally lies in the cloned animal products.
Research findings on cloned animal and purchase intension of consumer
Sosin and Richards (2005) reported that a third of consumers were willing to purchase meat and milk from the offspring of cloned animals, a third were willing to give it consideration if they had more information about it and a third were simply unwilling to buy it. Findings also that consumer were more accepting of animal cloning if it improved animal health and led to an improvement in the nutrition of meat and milk.
Brooks and Lusk (2010) in a study on consumers' demand for milk from cloned cows versus non-cloned cows revealed that consumers showed some aversion to cloning with the willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid milk from cloned cows over three times that for organic and rBST-free milk.
Jones et al. (2010) in a study on consumer willingness to pay for clone-free labels revealed that 59.46% of respondents were willing to pay for clone-free label products. Demographic variables like gender and education influenced respondents' WTP for clone-free labels.
Nonis et al. (2010) in a study on safety of cloned animal products on purchase intentions at three different price levels revealed that participants were having likelihood of purchasing superior quality beef from a cloned offspring at 20% more, 10% more and same price as prime quality conventional beef.
Supporting research findings on safety concern and confidence in agencies
Miljkovic et al. (2008) reported that the face of positive information of food safety policies from various sources, the tendency is for consumers to exhibit an offsetting behaviour which can alter their risk perception. This can subsequently increase the possibility of food contamination arising from this very false sense of safety.
Huffman et al. (2004) in their study found that consumers trust for information on GM foods that approximately 30% of respondents expressed confidence in independent sources like universities and researchers who did not have ties with biotechnology industries. This contrasted with about 20% of the respondents who had trust in government institutions like the FDA for verifiable information on GM foods.
Shepherd and Saghaian (2008) in their study reported that 47.8% of respondents had complete trust in health authorities and 33% had trust in university scientists. Also, 37.5% had trust in the USDA. Respondents mistrusted political groups followed by animal welfare organizations.
Brooks and Lusk (2011) reported that less than 30% of their research participants had trust in U.S federal agencies with regard to information about cloning.
Serogaroli et al. (2003) in their study reported that Italian consumers with higher information about GM food perceive GM food as a high risk and are willing to pay more for GM free products.
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About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently working as Senior Scientist in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India). I have also worked with ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar-243122 Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh (India) as Scientist for 10 year. Also a recipient of the ICAR's prestigious "The Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Outstanding Extension Scientist Award" in social science.