Consumer knowledge and acceptance of genetically modified foods: an analysis of survey data for 15 provinces in urban China

ZHANG Yijing1 ZHENG Zhihao1 GAO Yang1

(1.College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University)

【Abstract】Using data collected from 15 provinces in 2013 in urban China, this study analyzed consumer knowledge and acceptance of Genetically Modified Foods (GMF) and examined their determinants with econometrical models. Results showed that consumer’s knowledge of GMF was improved significantly during 2002–2013 while consumer acceptance of GMF decreased considerably. Consumer knowledge of GMF had a significant negative impact on consumer acceptance of GMF. The report on the Golden Rice event occurred in 2012 had a significant negative impact on consumer opinion towards GMF, suggesting that negative reports from the media have led to negative influences on consumers in urban China.

【Keywords】 urban residents; genetically modified foods; knowledge; acceptance;


【Funds】 The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (2012QT026) The genetically modified rice project at the University of Arkansas in the United States (US)

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    [1]. ① The six GMF products refer to pest-resistant GM fruits or vegetables, GM fruits or vegetables with longer shelf life, soybean oil processed by using GM soybeans, pest-resistant GM rice, nutritionally enhanced GM rice, and livestock fed with GM corn. [^Back]

    [2]. ① Huang et al. (2006) provide a comparison of survey results in 2002 and 2003. The sample size of data used in this study is substantially similar to the sample size used by Huang et al. (2006) in 2002. Therefore, survey results of Huang et al. (2006) in 2002 are used to compare with our study results. [^Back]

    [3]. ① This study does not include the fourth and the fifth parts of the questionnaire. [^Back]

    [4]. ②Source: China Statistical Yearbook 2014 (中国统计年鉴2014), National Bureau of Statistics of the People’s Republic of China (ed.), Beijing: China Statistics Press, (2014). [^Back]

    [5]. ① See Gao, Y. bachelor’s thesis, China Agricultural University, (2014). [^Back]

    [6]. ① In the trials, 25 children in the central primary school in Jiangkou Town, Hengnan County,Hunan Province, China were fed with 60 grams of pre-cooked Gold Rice during lunch time on June 2nd, 2008. The Golden Rice was cooked in the US before being brought into China on May 29th, 2008 by Tang Guangwen at Tufts University. Tang Guangwen did not report this conduct to relevant departments. And this conduct failed to comply with the GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) regulations about safety of agricultural GMOs enacted by the State Council of China. The researcher broke the rules of academic integrity. The CCTV report on this event in December 2012 triggered public concerns of the supervision degrees of GMF safety and negatively impacted consumer acceptance of GMF. [^Back]

    [7]. ① Greene (2003) show that in a multivariate ordered choice model, the marginal effects of the independent variable X cannot be directly measured by the estimated coefficients. However, our analysis demonstrates that the marginal effects of independent variables on several choice categories are consistent with the estimated model coefficients. Due to limited space, we only report the estimated coefficients in this paper. [^Back]

    [8]. ① Lusk et al. (2004) and Huffman et al. (2007) used consumer’s prior belief about GM to represent consumer knowledge. In this study, consumer knowledge is measured by how often a consumer heard of GMF. Because of the strong correlation between these two measures, our results are comparable to the results of these studies. [^Back]

    [9]. ① Due to limited space, these estimated results are not reported. [^Back]

    [10]. ② Results reflect a decrease in the percentage of consumers in accept and neutral categories and an increase of consumers in the oppose category. By regrouping these categories, with accept and neutral in one group, and oppose as the other group, we can better characterize the overall change in consumer acceptance of GMF as consumers gain more knowledge about GMF. [^Back]


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This Article


CN: 11-3586/F

Vol , No. 06, Pages 47-59+91+95-96

November 2015


Article Outline



  • 1 Introduction
  • 2 Data sources and the basic situation of samples
  • 3 Descriptive statistics of consumer knowledge and acceptance of GMF
  • 4 Factors influencing consumer knowledge and acceptance of GMF
  • 5 Conclusions
  • Footnote