, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 88-98

Agricultural research and farm structural change: Bovine growth hormone and beyond

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Emerging bovine somatotropin (or “bovine growth hormone” [bGH]) technology has become highly controversial even though the technology is one to two years from commercial introduction. The bGH controversy is discussed and placed in the context of the evolution of the American public agricultural research system and farm structural change over the past 15 years. It is argued that while many observers tend to overestimate the degree to which bGH will be representative of other biotechnologies applied to agriculture, the bGH case may well reflect a more general pattern of the changing clientele relations of the land-grant system and of the changing character of technology developed within the public agricultural research system. In particular, these new clientele and technical relations may portend a new era in which farmers begin to scrutinize the land-grant research portfolio, which might in turn lead to diminished political support by state-level farmers' groups for agricultural research appropriations.

Notes 1. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting of the Northeast Rural Sociologists, June 5, 1986, Pennsylvania State University. The author would like to thank Charles Geisler and Dale Bauman of Cornell University for their helpful comments on previous drafts of this paper. Portions of this paper appeared earlier in theEmpire State Granger (June–July 1986, pp. 8–10, 14).
Frederick H. Buttel is a Professor of Rural Sociology at Cornell University. He has had a longstanding research interest in the relations among agricultural science, farm structural change, and environmental quality. He currently is Vice President of the Rural Sociological Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences/Board on Agricultural Committee on "Managing Global Genetic Resources: Agricultural Imperatives." He is the author or editor of several books, the most recent of which isThe Sociology of Agriculture, a monograph prepared for the 50th anniversary of the Rural Sociological Society which is to be published in the summer of 1987.