ABSTRACT

The 1980s have seen a growing rejection of this orthodoxy. For many, the undoubted success achieved by agro-industrial technologies on the narrow front of productivity gains is no longer viewed as sufficient justification for their continued deployment. During the past 150 years there have been several distinct phases of technological advance in agriculture, the most important being the mechanical, the chemical, the bio-chemical, and now the genetic. American scientists have been marking several recent anniversaries celebrating public initiative and financial support for agricultural R&D. Until the 1980s, productivist goals dominated post-war agricultural policy in Britain. The chapter has focused on recent trends in the organisation and funding of R&D as a critical input to technological change, emphasising the different interests involved. The composition of interests in the policy community seems certain to change, but, as the House of Lords Select Committee makes clear, in its view considerable inertia exists within the present system.