Peter Ho
Centre for Development Studies, University of Groningen
Eduard B. Vermeer
Leiden University

This article is based on a survey of consumer awareness and acceptance of genetically modified (GM) food products in China. In recent years, the Chinese government has grown more cautious about the risks of transgenic food crops and publicity about these crops and risks. The state plays a critical role in biotech politics and does not allow GM food to become a prominent public issue. Our survey, which polled the opinions of approximately 1,000 urban respondents, showed that only one fifth of consumers had a limited understanding of genes and GM products. In the absence of adequate information on GMOs, the overall majority of the respondents (60%) were neutral or even unwilling to consume GM food. More importantly, when given both positive and negative information about potential GM food allergenicity, the willingness to buy dropped sharply. This might point to future scenarios of Chinese consumer resistance against GM food products.

Key words: Biosafety, consumer resistance, genetically modified food, labeling, risk.