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Agricultural Research in a Centrally Planned Economy: The Case of Rapeseed Research in the People's Republic of China (PRC)

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Rapeseed has played an important role in the agriculture of the PRC for millennia as a source of edible oil, industrial products, organic fertilizer and, recently, animal feed. For the last 46 years, the PRC has experienced several dramatic shifts in the political and social environment for rapeseed research. This paper examines the scientific and technical literature on rapeseed since 1949 and identifies the relationship between agricultural research activities and major political and economic transitions in China. The analysis of the rapeseed literature shows: (1) how vulnerable agricultural research in the PRC has been to fluctuations in the political and economic environment, and (2) how the foci of rapeseed research shifted from the pre-reform to the post-reform era. This paper concludes with: (1) some observations about the differences in the role of agricultural research in a socialist and capitalist country, (2) implications about the relationship between political and economic reforms, and agricultural research.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology University of Canterbury New Zealand


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