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XIX EURAGRI Members Conference The Knowledge Challenge: Research and Innovation François Houllier INRA, Scientific Director for Plant and Plant Products.

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Presentation on theme: "XIX EURAGRI Members Conference The Knowledge Challenge: Research and Innovation François Houllier INRA, Scientific Director for Plant and Plant Products."— Presentation transcript:

1 XIX EURAGRI Members Conference The Knowledge Challenge: Research and Innovation
François Houllier INRA, Scientific Director for Plant and Plant Products

2 Outline Difficulty to cover such a wide topic, at the crossroads
of the evolution of agriculture per se of global social, economic and environmental changes of the progress of science and technology A sample of ‘research challenges’ from three types generated by the joint dynamics of agriculture, societies and environment related to the inner ‘natural’ scientific and technological trends resulting from changes in the organization of R&D systems

3 ‘Global’ context and trends
Agriculture as a major policy and economic issue Trade of agricultural products Europe is a major exporter and the first importer of agricultural products Demographic pressure and the need to feed the world population Increased competition for arable land in some countries Need to increase the productivity and competitiveness of agriculture Other agriculture-related megatrends Urbanization changes ‘our’ relationship to Nature and to rurality An increasing aversion to risks: cf. ‘precautionary principle’ From quantity towards quality and safety of food and agricultural products Changes in, and variability of diet regimes Environmental changes

4 Environmental changes
Global changes … Land use and land use changes Climatic changes Atmospheric pollution Biological invasions including emerging animal and plant diseases Overexploitation of renewable resources … but also local and diffuse changes such as pollutions including those related to agriculture

5 Living Beyond Our Means?
Observed and predicted decline of resources and of ecosystem services (http://www.millenniumassessment.org/) Threats to natural renewable resources … … that are either affected by agriculture (and/)or key factors for the development thereof genetic diversity, water, … Predicted decline of fossil energy resources Opportunities for agriculture if a good link is established between producers and industries Renewed research questions In engineering sciences, biology and genetics … … but also in agronomy, ecology, economy and social sciences (systemic approaches)

6 The need to jointly consider the evolution …
… of the agricultural systems … of the food systems … and of the environment Natural and cultivated ecosystems Biodiversity and (renewable) natural resources (soil, water, air, etc.)

7 … and to articulate and couple various approaches
Biophysical approaches of the structure, diversity, functioning and dynamics of cultivated and natural ecosystems Technical and technological approaches of agricultural systems, of their production and products Territorial, social and economic approaches of agricultural activities and of their insertion in the society

8 1st challenge: agriculture and sustainable development
From ‘sustainable agriculture’ to ‘agriculture as a component of sustainable development’ Agriculture as a component of a larger system Three standpoints for research New questions, new topics linked to sustainability issues e.g. incorporation of risk analysis into the economic assessment of agricultural systems Sustainable development as a new research object per se e.g. joint appraisal of the immediate and long-term environmental, social and economic performance of agricultural systems; trade-off analysis Sustainable development as a driver for renewing research practices and relationships between science and action e.g. the focus on innovation (cf. Lisbon Strategy “Innovation as the motor for economic change”) leads to new ways of doing research Products, processes, organizations, marketing Management and impacts of innovation (systemic approaches)

9 Changes in, and variability of diet regimes
Long-term evolution of food energetic inputs in France Total Glucides Cereals – Starchy food Calories/person/day Lipids Animal products – Fruits and vegetables Fat – Sugar Proteins Source: J.-C. Toutain, FAO-STAT

10 Changes in, and variability of diet regimes
With links with human health and epidemiology E.g. variation of obesity among countries Source : OECD 2003

11 2nd challenge: diet transitions and the focus on consumer
Links between diet and lifestyle Links with demographic and epidemiological transitions Colon Cancer, Stroke, Coronary Heart Disease, and Type II Diabetes Potentially Preventable by Life-Style Modifications From: Willett, WC. Science 296:696, 2002.

12 Diet transitions and the focus on consumer (2)
‘From fork to farm’ More emphasis on food safety and on food quality Food and diet as complex systems The necessity to avoid naïve views Courtesy X. Leverve (INRA, DS NHSA)

13 A few scientific and technological trends
High throughput biology Ecological in situ observations and experiments Computer sciences and modeling

14 High throughput biology
From genomics to metabolomics Large international genome sequencing consortia Bioinformatics as a major component New investigation techniques (in situ cell imagery, …) The need of dedicated biological and genetic resources Natural resources Mutants Data Bases

15 3rd challenge: towards integrative biology
Genomics are in a highly productive, but still descriptive phase There is a strong need to develop integrative biology Horizontal integration From the gene to the function and back using exhaustive data Linking quantitative and molecular genetics Vertical integration (systems biology) Up- and down-scaling across organization levels Strong need of models Transversal integration Comparative approaches across species

16 Ecological in situ observations and experiments
The capability to trace the in situ functioning of ecosystems Greenhouse controlled experiments Isotopic techniques In controlled systems In natura Long-term ecological experiments Population genetics and evolutionary biology From ‘neutral’ to ‘selected’ markers Climatic tunnels (courtesy J.-F. Soussana, INRA, Clermont-Ferrand) Canopy crane research facility in Oregon A FACE system in New Zealand (courtesy J.-F. Soussana, INRA, Clermont-Ferrand)

17 4th challenge: biodiversity ↔ ecosystem functioning
Assessing biodiversity, at various scales and levels of life organization, as a driver and/or as an indicator of ecosystem functioning, or per se Inventories Functional role of biodiversity Impacts of agriculture Understanding and controlling biodiversity dynamics Monitoring The need of long-term experiments and of links with large-scale operational surveys Impacts of agriculture (and of other human activities) The need of models and of experiments

18 Information sciences and technologies, and modeling
Spatial representation of ecosystems GIS & Remote Sensing Systemic approaches of complex situations UML models Bioinformatics Databases, data mining, algorithms, … Models of networks Gene regulation Metabolic functioning Ecological food web networks, … Simulation systems Virtual plants, crops, landscapes, …

19 5th challenge: complex systems
Conceptualization of systems Many elements and many interactions Data management Organization and storage of, and access to, very large (massive) and distributed datasets Capability to model networks of interactions and retroactions The need of analytical tools The need of models and data The capability to integrate knowledge into simulators

20 6th challenge: ‘Knowledge economy’ and agriculture
Linking research, education and extension A key for innovation and long-term competitiveness Harmonization of diploma throughout Europe Bologna, 1998 Linking agricultural research organizations to the agricultural higher education system … Polarization of the research system … and networking … and to the industries and the associated technical R&D centres Cf. European Technology Platforms

21 Thank you for your attention!


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