Document Type

Theses, Masters


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence



Publication Details

Successfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy to the Technological University Dublin in 2012


The ability to clone elite breeding animals, aimed at addressing the needs of modern food production, had been earmarked as a possibility for the agricultural sector since the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1996. A ruling by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States in 2008 that permits under-license, the commercial cloning of agricultural animals has seen this possibility realised. No such ruling exists here in Europe, but the FDA policy not to label cloned-derived products, and a history of wariness to food biotechnology in Europe may expedite this debate. With the plethora of issues that cloning of animals presents (animal welfare, religious issues, trade issues etc.), the policy debate in Europe looks set to incorporate ethical, legal and social issues from a complex set of state and civil stakeholders. Against the backdrop of ambitious targets for the Irish beef and dairy sectors and with biotechnology identified as a driver of growth, this study is an attempt to generate insight in an Irish context. The aim of this research is to canvass the views of Irish key opinion leaders with respect to the use of animal cloning for food production purposes, as well as those of the Irish public. Specifically, this research aims to gauge the current levels of awareness among specific groups and examine their likely acceptance. In accomplishing the research aim, the development of the methodology took a qualitative approach. A series of in-depth interviews was carried out with Irish key opinion leaders (n=19) spanning regulatory organisations, scientific institutions, consumer interest groups, industry representatives, retail and other non-government organisations. The methodological challenge of engaging with the public on a complex technology was overcome with a novel methodology called Food-Bio QUIS (Food-Biotechnology Qualitative InsightS). Food-Bio QUIS uses established methodology from the area of citizen engagement to develop dialogue and established methodology from qualitative research (specifically focus groups) in the selection of individuals and in analysis of the data. In total 6 Food-Bio QUIS groups were carried out with a cross section of the Irish public (n=35). The results indicate that formal discussion on the use and implications of animal cloning in food production had not occurred within key opinion leader organisations. While receptivity to agri-food cloning varied among interviewees, the near-term prospects for this technology were largely viewed with scepticism. Among the Irish public, key findings on the receptivity to cloning included animal welfare aspects, varying interpretations on modern agriculture and the influence of science-fiction on the receptivity to new technologies