Attitudes in China about Crops and Foods Developed by Biotechnology

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Abstract or Summary

Transgenic Bt cotton has been planted in China since 1997 and, in 2009, biosafety certificates for the commercial production of Bt rice and phytase corn were issued by the Chinese government. The public attitude in China toward agricultural biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) crops and foods has received considerable attention worldwide. We investigated the attitudes of consumers, Bt cotton farmers and scientists in China regarding GM crops and foods and the factors influencing their attitudes. Data were collected using interview surveys of consumer households, farmer households and scientists. A discrete choice approach was used to elicit the purchase intentions of the respondents. Two separate probit models were developed to examine the effect of various factors on the choices of the respondents. Bt cotton farmers had a very positive attitude because Bt cotton provided them with significant economic benefits. Chinese consumers from developed regions had a higher acceptance and willingness to pay for GM foods than consumers in other regions. The positive attitude toward GM foods by the scientific community will help to promote biotechnology in China in the future. Our survey emphasized that educational efforts made by government officials, the media and scientists can facilitate the acceptance of GM technology in China. Further educational efforts will be critical for influencing consumer attitudes and decisions of government agencies in the future. More effective educational efforts by government agencies and public media concerning the scientific facts and safety of GM foods would enhance the acceptance of GM crops in China.

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