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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Everything but the moo : a stakeholder analysis of livestock waste tissue disposal options in British Columbia Russell, Alex


The emergence of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or “mad cow” disease has forced new practices in raising of cattle, risk management in abattoirs, marketable cuts of meat and disposal of potentially infective material. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency defines BSE as a progressive, fatal disease of the nervous system of cattle. In 1996 BSE became a human health issue when a link was discovered between BSE and a new variation of Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (vCJD), a devastating and incurable disease with a very low-probability of infection but a high fatality rate (Collinge, 1999). To avert further BSE and potential vCJD cases, new policies need to be implemented (CFIA, 2007b; CFIA, 2007b; CFIA, 2008; DEFRA, 2004; OIE, 2007). These policies would not only protects the health of consumers in Canada, they are a prerequisite to exporting Canadian meat products. Failure to enact risk reduction measures has had devastating economic impacts (FDA, 2005; Hill, 2005; Mitura & Di Pietro, 2004; Poulin & Boame, 2003). However, not all technologies being used to manage the risk of prion diseases are deemed effective, and many have strong economies of scale which if implemented may well exclude small scale farming and slaughterhouses, unless consumers accept much higher cost products. Creating an effective management plan for animal by-products (ABPs) is a complex issue involving multiple conflicting objectives. In order to meet the objectives, the CFIA has approved five management options that offer varying levels of risk management while imposing different environmental, social and economic costs. The costs of these are linked to the operational scale and technology being considered. Furthermore, stakeholders are likely to be sensitive to different attributes of these options and design of successful policies. The focus of this research is on the tradeoff between managing the human health risk of exposure to the BSE prion and the economics of managing this risk while retaining consumer demand. The challenge lies in discovering alternative means of managing livestock waste tissue that are practical for producers and regulators and are attractive to consumers. This challenge was addressed by asking the following two questions: 1. What is the cost and effectiveness of different waste disposal options for British Columbia? 2. What is the extent of consumer willingness to share in the costs of increased food safety? In answering these questions a two stage methodology was designed. The first stage was a technological analysis whereby each was characterized and compared to the extent in which they satisfied operational objectives. The second stage was conducted through an online survey whereby we gather information on the following three broad categories, demographics, determinants of purchasing behaviour and willingness to pay for varying levels of food safety. The results of the technological analysis show that the technology of choice varies based on stakeholder preference. The survey results confirm earlier results that consumers value food safety and they are willing to pay to mitigate food safety risks (Hammitt, 1990; Latouche, Rainelli, & Vermersch, 1998; Loureiro, McCluskey, & Mittelhammer, 2003; McCluskey, Grimsrud, Ouchi, & Wahl, 2005; Röhr, Lüddecke, Drusch, Müller, & Alvensleben, 2005) Within the context of beef selection survey respondents are willing to pay up close to 184 cents per pound of beef more than they are currently paying and the study has highlighted the following two predictors of for this tendency: 1. Consumer willingness to pay for organic food and: 2. Respondent level of concern regarding food borne illnesses In terms of policy selection, regulations in BC should impose risk reduction measures that achieve considerable levels of risk management, communicate this clearly to the public as well as the impact of these measures on production costs and provide a means whereby consumers can select for this attribute, such as a labeling program.

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