From Agricultural Science to "Biological Economies"?
Campbell, Hugh; Burton, Rob; Cooper, Mark; Henry, Matthew; Le Heron, Erena; Le Heron, Richard; Lewis, Nick; Pawson, Eric; Perkins, Harvey; Roche, Michael; Rosin, Chris; White, Toni
The development of New Zealand as a people, a blend of cultures, a nation and an economy owes much to the unique constellation of land- and waterbased resources, social values and ecological change within production landscapes that we refer to as "biological economies". The exploitation of these biological economies has altered over the course of New Zealand's history, but, since the Second World War (WW2), the successful allegiance between scientific research and production-oriented farming practices has profoundly changed the productive capacity of New Zealand's agricultural landscapes. New Zealand's post-WW2 history benefited from a particular set of economic, trading, environmental and social conditions and priorities and, through their development, enabled the emergence of a modern, developed nation. The continuing importance of New Zealand's biological economies has been most recently articulated both by Federated Farmers in their 2008 General Election Manifesto and by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) in its briefing to its new minister. Both organisations recognise the tensions that are becoming apparent in New Zealand's rural economy, society and landscapes as new priorities emerge and challenge old verities. maF (2008), in quite unequivocal terms, argues that we are at the start of a transformation in the biological economies that will drive New Zealand's future well-being. The precise character of that transformation is unknowable, but it will, in the first instance, expose the production systems which have developed over the last century to more deeply and explicitly framed consumer priorities concerning issues such as environmental sustainability, increased public access to the countryside and the protection of rural resources upon which recreation depends. At stake here is New Zealand's continuing competitive advantage, because that advantage is no longer defined solely through low-cost production. However, our ability to rethink the future shape of New Zealand's biological economies is hampered by the artificial division of complex agricultural ecologies into separate analytical spheres. Other contributors to recent discussions in this Journal have identified the importance of integrating social and ecological dynamics and the necessity of transdisciplinarity (Rosin et al. 2008). We take this further by arguing that such insights about the future of agriculture (and related uses of rural and coastal land and water) must be informed by a full recognition of a wider set of explanatory contexts.
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Rights Statement: © The Royal Society of New Zealand 2009
Keywords: Biological Economies; New Zealand; Primary production; post-structuralism; transformative research
Research Type: Journal Article