Cover image for Technological change in agriculture : locking in to genetic uniformity
Technological change in agriculture : locking in to genetic uniformity
Hogg, Dominic.
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Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xviii, 296 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
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S494.5.I5 H625 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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It is well known that modern agricultural techniques are ecologically damaging. This book seeks to understand why, when we have known this for so long, such techniques continue to be used and developed, even when viable alternatives are available. It argues that agriculture has evolved because we have become locked in to the cultivation of crops that are increasingly uniform, and therefore vulnerable. The book explains the causes of this process in theoretical terms and through case-studies which reveal that the preference for genetic uniformity involved both more and less conscious choices to exclude more genetically diverse alternatives.

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If genetic diversity of grain crops is desirable ecologically, then, Hogg asks, what are the forces that block techniques and policies encouraging genetic diversity? Hogg, senior consultant with ECOTEC Research and Consulting Ltd., Birmingham, England, blends a detailed, albeit arcane, economic and sociological analysis of agricultural technology. He emphasizes irreversible steps or directions that he believes lock in paths that render sustainable techniques in crop development less and less likely to occur, resulting in the ecological vulnerability of genetic uniformity. Utilizing fitness landscape or path dependent models of Sewall Wright and others, Hogg argues that reductionism in science, shortsighted positivism, and overly specialized approaches to the issues of plant diversity have placed contemporary crop genetic technology in the doubly difficult position of pursuing a dead-end course that is increasingly incapable of being altered for the good. Hogg utilizes three case studies--the development of hybrid corn in the US, the "green revolution" as applied to Mexico, and the current conflict between emerging "biotechniques" and alternative agriculture. Consistent with the book's dissertation origins is the detailed documentation and bibliography. Recommended for upper-division undergraduate and graduate collections in agricultural economics, agronomy, ecology, and public policy. L. S. Cline; Southwest Missouri State University

Table of Contents

List Of Tables and Figuresp. ix
Prefacep. x
List of Acronyms and Abbreviationsp. xvi
1 Genetic Diversity in Agriculture: Its Rise, Fall and Significancep. 1
Notesp. 36
2 Technological Change in Agriculture: Orthodox Viewsp. 41
3 The Determinants of the Path of Technological Change in Agriculture: an Unorthodox Viewp. 74
4 Beyond Orthodoxy: Locking in to Genetic Uniformityp. 111
Introduction to Case-Studiesp. 143
5 Hybrid Corn in the United States, 1900-35p. 145
Notesp. 172
6 The Road to Mexico's Green Revolution: Maize Research, 1940-55p. 175
7 Biotechniques and the Neglect of Alternative Agriculturep. 209
8 Conclusionp. 245
Bibliographyp. 253
Indexp. 290