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CLC number: B848.3; C912.6; C915

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Received: 2005-08-01

Revision Accepted: 2005-11-01

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Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 2006 Vol.7 No.4 P.257~266

http://doi.org/10.1631/jzus.2006.B0257


Chinese public understanding of the use of agricultural biotechnology—A case study from Zhejiang Province of China


Author(s):  Lü, Lan

Affiliation(s):  Department of Social Sciences, School of Humanities, Hangzhou Dianzi University, Hangzhou 310018, China

Corresponding email(s):   lulandk27@yahoo.com

Key Words:  Chinese public, Attitude, Agro-food, Biotechnology


Lü Lan. Chinese public understanding of the use of agricultural biotechnology—A case study from Zhejiang Province of China[J]. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 2006, 7(4): 257~266.

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Abstract: 
This study explores the chinese public’s perceptions of, and attitudes to, agriculture and food applications of biotechnology; and investigates the effect of socio-demographic factors on attitudes. A questionnaire survey and interviews were used in an attempt to combine quantitative analysis with qualitative review. The main finding of this study is that the Chinese population has a superficial, optimistic attitude to agricultural biotechnology; and that, in accordance with public attitudes, a cautious policy, with obligatory labelling, should be adopted. The study reveals that education is the factor among socio-demographic variables with the strongest impact on public attitudes. Higher education leads to a more positive evaluation of GM (genetically modified) foods and applications of biotechnology with respect to usefulness, moral acceptability, and suitability for encouragement. In addition, public attitudinal differences depend significantly on area of residence. Compared with their more urban compatriots, members of the public in less developed areas of China have more optimistic attitudes, perceive more benefits, and are more risk tolerant in relation to GM foods and agricultural biotechnology. Finally we obtained a very high rate of “don’t know” answers to our survey questions. This suggests that many people do not have settled attitudes, and correspondingly, that the overall public attitude to agricultural biotechnology and GM foods in China is at present somewhat unstable.

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Reference

[1] AFIC (Asian Food Information Centre), 2003. Consumer Perceptions of Food Biotechnology in Asia. Public Report on the Asia Food Information Centre 2002 Survey.

[2] Anderson, K., Yao, S., 2002. China, GMOs, and World Trade in Agricultural and Textile Products. Discussion Paper No. 0126, Centre for International Economic Studies, Adelaide University, Australia.

[3] Coffey, A., Atkinson, P., 1996. Making Sense of Qualitative Data. SAGE Publications, Thousand Oaks, USA.

[4] Gaskell, G., Bauer, M.W., 2001. Biotechnology in the Years of Controversy: a Social Scientific Perspective. In: Biotechnology 1996-2000—the Years of Controversy. Science Museum, London, UK, p.3-11.

[5] Gaskell, G., Allum, N., Stares, S., 2003. A Report to the EC Directorate General for Research from the Project “Life Sciences in European Society”. Report No. QLG7-CT-1999-00286, p.1.

[6] Huang, J.K., Wang, Q.F., 2002. Agricultural biotechnology development and policy in China. Agriculture Biotechnology Forum, 5(4):122-135.

[7] Li, Q., Curtis, K.R., McCluskey, J.J., Wahl, T.I., 2002. Consumer attitudes toward genetically modified foods in Beijing, China. Agriculture Biotechnology Forum, 5(4):145-152.

[8] Zhang, X.Y., 2003. Tianjin Consumer Study: with Special Attention to Food Safety. Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), the Hague, the Netherlands.

[9] Zhong, F.N., Marchant, M.A., Ding, Y.L., Lu, K.Y., 2002. GM foods: a Nanjing case study of Chinese consumers’ awareness and potential attitudes. Agriculture Biotechnology Forum, 5(4):136-144.

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