Is Animal Welfare Promoting Hornless Cattle? Assessing Consumer’s Valuation for Milk from Gene‐edited Cows under Different Information Regimes
February 25, 2021 - Author: Valerie Kilders, Vincenzia Caputo
Kilders, V., & Caputo, V. (2021). Is Animal Welfare Promoting Hornless Cattle? Assessing Consumer’s Valuation for Milk from Gene‐edited Cows under Different Information Regimes. Journal of Agricultural Economics.
Due to its ability to achieve genetic engineering goals without transgene modifications, gene‐editing is fast becoming a predominant genetic‐engineering breeding technique and a range of food‐related applications have already been developed. Yet, it remains unclear whether consumers would perceive gene‐edited food products differently from so‐called first‐generation genetic engineering or from genetic modification, and how information about its benefits might alter consumer choice. Focusing on a recent gene‐editing application in animal production, the genetic dehorning of dairy cows, this study uses data from a survey of 1,000 US consumers to determine: (i) consumer willingness‐to‐pay for milk from cows that have been gene‐edited to be hornless; and (ii) consumers’ response to information about how the gene‐editing technology works, how it differs from genetic modification, and its benefits for animal welfare. Information treatments utilise videos to maximise respondents’ understanding. Results from parametric and semi‐parametric choice models suggest that: (i) information on animal welfare has the strongest effect on consumer willingness‐to‐pay for milk produced from conventionally and genetically dehorned cows; and (ii) that providing respondents with more information leads to an increasingly wider spread of the preference distributions in the positive and negative domain uncovering a further polarisation of preferences and confirming the heterogeneous impact of information on preferences.