Technology, Research, and the Penetration of Capital: The Case of U.S. Agriculture


  • Richard C. Lewontin
  • Jean-Pierre Berlan



Ecology, Political Economy


The farm crisis that is so much in the news is not new, but is the culmination of the long process of the transformation of agriculture. This transformation is marked by an increasing penetration of large capital concentrations and an increasing differentiation between farming and agriculture. Farming is producing wheat; agriculture is turning phosphates into bread. Farming, carried out by millions of petty producers, is now completely dominated by the total system of agricultural production under the control of a few oligopolies, who sell farmers their inputs, and buy their outputs, and control (directly or indirectly) their conditions of production. This process of transformation has been made possible by, and has been driven by, agricultural research and technological change. Ironically, while public agricultural research responds to the demands of farmers, it is in the very process destroying their status as independent producers and putting them more and more under the control of capital.