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Will consumers go for cloned meat?

Jaime Luján Zilbermann
Very soon now, probably before the end of the year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will give its final decision as to whether the consumption of meat from cloned animals is safe. It is widely accepted by most pundits that the decision will allow the sale of these products to consumers.

Very soon now, probably before the end of the year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will give its final decision as to whether the consumption of meat from cloned animals is safe. It is widely accepted by most pundits that the decision will allow the sale of these products to consumers.
Scientifically speaking, cloning animals should not make a difference as to whether their meat is safe or not as long as the original animal itself is safe to eat. And although it would certainly make sense to clone an animal with excellent meat quality, we're not quite there yet, technologically speaking. Even though it is possible, the technique remains too expensive to be used widely. But once these technological and legal hurdles are out of the way (I won't go into the ethics of the matter), there still remains the most important question, at least in the case of poultry processors… will consumers go for it?
Two interesting pieces of information came to light recently. First, the California Senate "passed a bill that would require all packages containing product from a cloned animal to be labelled as such," according to Meatingplace.com (membership required). Although the bill has yet to be signed by the state governor, it does imply that California's legislature considers it a given that the FDA will consider cloned meat safe. Furthermore, by acting pre-emptively, the bill's creators believe that consumers will want to be informed of what they're buying.
But will they?
That is one crystal ball that is very hard to peer into, which leads us to that second piece of information: the results of an assessment of consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology commissioned by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). Their numbers show that 22% of respondents held a favourable view of the use of "animal cloning", and that the percentage jumps to 46% if the FDA determines that foods from cloned animals are safe.
The implication of these results is that consumers, in the US at least, have a lot of faith in their government and their food supply and would be very likely to accept cloned meat.
Could something else be done to nudge that percentage up to say 50%?
A good marketing strategy could help, but might be tricky as it could easily backfire, with consumer-citizens making the meat industry, as a whole, a very easy target. Another way out would be to enlist the government for help in supporting the consumption of cloned meat, probably a safer route.
It remains to be seen what exactly will happen, but it will all certainly make for interesting outcomes.
Related blogs:
Safety of Cloned Animals

9 comments

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    Angela

    I am not sure that people will eat the meat of cloned animals so readily. I mean, consumers are becoming more health conscious all the time, constantly being aware of what they eat and paying more attention to labels, place of origin etc. I feel that it will take a lot to convince consumers that the meat is as good as meat from a "normal" animal. If you put 2 pieces of meat infront of me, one "normal" and the other cloned, I'd go for the "normal"...it just seems more safe, I know what I am getting, and there are no risks, like there may be with cloned meat.
    Perhaps cloned meat will fly off the shelves, but I wouldn't put my money on it!

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    Madhawi

    Speaking from the perspective of a third world country, I'm sure they will. The most important deciding facts are the price and taste. Campaigns on the by-effects of hormones are mostly to the ears of deaf. Although consumers are becoming more aware on consuming biotech manipulated food, the actual process of changing their habits is very slow.

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    Mike Spandern, FeedConcepts

    The question is wrong. It will not be a Yes or No. The Technology is there and it will be used. Consumers will now have to determine under which conditions they are willing to accept and pay for it. Then producers will have to decide if it is profitable and if cloning makes sense at all.

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    SteveKDC

    The notion that a genetic twin of an animal would somehow carry a food safety threat unknown in the donor animal is unfounded. The word "clone" conjures images of science fiction, but by going to "clonesafety.org" you can see the animals, you read the research, and you can learn the facts about the myriad benefits cloning brings, from the safety and sustainability of cloning the "rock stars" of the barnyard, to finding and replicating animals heretofore unable to live in certain climates to the breeding of the best and healthiest animals that will allow us to move away from certain inputs. It's unfortunate we've become so cynical that when just about every scientist on the planet declares a technology safe, we cringe. We need to get over our fear of food and embrace those technologies that allow us to feed a hungry planet as effiently and abundantly as we do.

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    Paul

    As far as I am concerned I prefer naturally endowed. A cloned meat, to me, is not acceptable and nociating.

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    This would greatly indanger the food supply

    If all meat stock came from one chicken, one cow, one lamb, all it would take is one virus, one bacteria to run rampant through them. There is a reason asexual animals aren't much more than slime moles.

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    David

    It would greatly endanger our food supply. There is a reason most creatures in nature are not asexual. Diversity is essential. If all chicken stock, all cow, all lambs... derive from one, then all it would take is one virus, one bacteria to wipe them out. It's bad enough that we have bred the species down so much and use such few varieties, pack them in factory farms, and pump them with antibiotics. These are not safe practices. Cloning is just the next step, in this process. We had better learn sometime soon, that this system is not sustainable. The question is not whether consumers will eat them. They will. There will be an initial outcry. The government will ban labeling, and people will forget. The question is whether it is a smart thing to do. IT IS NOT.

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    Dee Jay

    Well, from a third world perspective, it will affect us. without these we cannot have naturally.

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    Sally Johnstone

    Nobody in their right mind eats meat, why would cloned meat be any different?You must have a mental problem.

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