Technological change has come to be seen as neither neutral nor benign. With growing alarm over various global ecological changes, there are increasing doubts about the continued sustainability of present patterns of urbanisation and industrialisation. The dynamic of technological advance in farming thus lies outside of agriculture. The context for technological change in centrally planned economies has been very different, though the outcome has often been similar. The interaction between technological and social and environmental change is intrinsically uneven. The partitioning of scientific research in relation to technological change reproduces and reinforces this artificial separation with engineering and the physical sciences seen as sources of innovation, and social and environmental sciences as furnishing analyses of ‘up-take’ and ‘impacts’. Moreover, the prospect of the agricultural use of genetically modified organisms poses quite novel environmental risks and has provoked calls for stringent controls, linked to a pro-active regulatory strategy.