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Emerging Issues in Technological Change and Technology Assessment in Agriculture
ATFFI Publications No. 1 research report, May 1993
by Lawrence Busch

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Over three decades ago, geographer David Lowenthal contrasted what were then the three Guianas. He observed that each had about the same climate and topography, but the mode of settlement in each country varied widely. French Guiana remained empty; nearly its entire population was concentrated in the capital city of Cayenne. In Dutch Guiana the land had been empoldered. The Dutch settlements were in towns with few roads between them, while the British settlements were scattered with comparatively good roads connecting them. The contrast between these three ways to use the land could hardly have been more striking.

These differences in land use patterns and in the technologies used to implement these patterns offer an example of the individual, cultural, and social choices individuals and societies make, choices which have profound implications for the way of life of a given nation's inhabitants. In this paper, I explore some of the choices that we make when we decided to pursue particular technological pathways as opposed to others. I also explore how information about alternative pathways can improve the decisions we make.

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