William Lin, Agapi Somwaru, Francis Tuan, Jikun Huang, and Junfei Bai
US Department of Agriculture; Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Based on a large-scale survey, this study employs the contingent valuation method to estimate consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for biotech foods in China and to account for the effects of respondents’ characteristics on the likelihood of purchasing biotech foods and WTP. The survey, covering 1,100 consumers in 11 small-to-large cities (including Beijing and Shanghai) along China’s eastern coast, was conducted in the fall of 2002. Although the survey covers eight different kinds of biotech foods, soybean oil made from imported biotech soybeans and insect-resistant biotech rice are the focus. A majority— about 60% or higher—of respondents were willing to purchase biotech foods without any price discounts. However, about 20% of them would only accept non-biotech foods. Price premiums that respondents were willing to pay for non-biotech foods averaged about 23-53% for non-biotech soybean oil and 42-74% for non-biotech rice. The lower bound WTP comes closer to the true value in light of hypothetical bias associated with the contingent valuation method.

Key words: Biotech foods, willingness to pay, China, contingent valuation method, semi-double-bounded dichotomous choice model.