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Scientists’ attitudes toward agricultural GM technology development and GM food in China

Jikun Huang (China Center for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China)
Bowen Peng (Department of Project Management, Foreign Economic Cooperation Center, The Ministry of Agriculture, Beijing, China)
Xiaobing Wang (China Center for Agricultural Policy, School of Advanced Agricultural Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 4 September 2017

1333

Abstract

Purpose

Previous studies have mainly focused on public opinions regarding genetically modified (GM) technology and GM food. The purpose of this paper is to assess scientists’ attitudes on whether China needs to develop its national agricultural GM technology and their willingness to buy GM food.

Design/methodology/approach

A stratified sampling method was used to select and interview 806 scientists from six major agricultural universities and 20 research institutes under two national academies in China in 2013. Based on these data, the authors use both descriptive statistics and multivariate regression analysis to examine scientists’ attitudes toward agricultural GM technology and food, using GM soybean oil as an example of GM foods.

Findings

The survey results show that nearly three-quarters of scientists agree that China needs to develop its agricultural GM technology, but their attitudes differ largely. Only 29 percent of scientists are willing to buy GM soybean oil, similar to urban consumers (25 percent) in China. The knowledge of biology is extensive for some scientists but varies significant among scientists and correlates positively with their attitudes toward agricultural GM technology and GM soybean oil. Younger and male scientists with higher professional titles, and those involved in GM research are more in favor of China’s GM technology compared to other scientists. Female scientists, scientists with lower professional titles, those that have never engaged in GM research or are from non-agricultural scientific disciplines are less willing to buy GM soybean oil. Interestingly, their low willingness to buy GM soybean oil is inconsistent with the fact that it is the most common edible oil in China.

Originality/value

This study is the first to examine scientists’ attitudes toward GM technology and food in China. The results of this study contribute to understanding the current debates on GM technology and the relevance of research, based on the willingness to buy GM food, for decision making regarding the commercialization of GM technology.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the collaborators who coordinated the surveys in their institutions, including Jiming Wang and Chunfang Liu from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Junfei Bai from China Agricultural University, Yuanyun Ling and Yong Wang from Huazhong Agricultural University, Guanghua Lin and Funing Zhong from Nanjing Agricultural University, and Chunling Xue from South China Agricultural University as well as Huanguang Qiu and the others who conducted the surveys in Northeast Agricultural University and Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University. The authors also thank Carl Play and Bryan Lohmar for their useful comments in the initial analysis of this study and acknowledge financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71333013) and the National Key Program on Genetically Modified New Varieties (2011ZX08015-002A and 2016ZX08015-001).

Citation

Huang, J., Peng, B. and Wang, X. (2017), "Scientists’ attitudes toward agricultural GM technology development and GM food in China", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 369-384. https://doi.org/10.1108/CAER-05-2017-0101

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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