Consumers Up in the Air on Cloning

Articles
October 13, 2010

Consumers Up in the Air on Cloning

Dr. Evil may love having his dwarf clone Mini-Me around.

Dr. Evil may love having his dwarf clone Mini-Me around. We bet that as a supermarket shopper in real life, however, he’d want to see on the package label whether the food or beverage he was buying came from a cloned animal or its offspring.

The Lempert Report thinks this because twice – once in 2007 and again last month in 2010 – respondents to our exclusive national Quick Poll survey voted overwhelmingly in favor of such clear disclosure. In 2007, 88% said yes when asked, ‘Do you believe that all foods and beverages from cloned animals or their offspring should be labeled as such?’ That figure rose to 90% in 2010.

There is also widespread doubt as to the safety of this food. When we asked, ‘Do you believe that foods and beverages from cloned animals or their offspring are safe to consume,’ 34% said ‘No’ in 2007 and 39% said ‘No’ in 2010. Another 45% said ‘Not sure’ in both years.

We believe the rise may be due to the greater likelihood that such foods could reach the marketplace – if indeed they aren’t already here. Many people already reject GMO foods (genetically modified crops) and think animal cloning poses potential dangers and deep ethical questions. “The meat and dairy industry argues that cloning can give more farmers access to star animals with leaner meat, bigger milking potential and enhance disease resistance….[it] is among a number of breeding techniques that are becoming mainstays of the industry,” reports the International Herald Tribune.

Moreover, attempts to win approval to distribute genetically altered versions of Atlantic salmon in the United States within two years raised controversy.

Against this backdrop of events, adult consumers told us the following in their answers to the Quick Poll:

  • 48% don’t feel foods and beverages from cloned animals or their offspring are safer is the cloning occurs within the U.S.; 29% said they weren’t sure.
  • 50% think the nutritional value of foods and beverages from cloned animals or their offspring is the same; 45% think it is worse.
  • 64% wouldn’t consume foods and beverages from cloned animals or their offspring; 20% aren’t sure.
  • 71% wouldn’t feed these foods and beverages to their children, grandchildren or elderly parents.
  • 47% feel that prices of these foods and beverages should be lower; 33% think they should be the same.
  • When asked what supermarkets could do to make them feel more confident in the safety of these foods, 67% said to include a certification seal and describe them at the shelf/on the website; 65% said to describe the cloning process and recent scientific opinions on the website; 53% said to source from the U.S. only; 48% said to include nutritionist commentary on a website video or on store tours.