Le Courrier de l’environnement de l’INRA, 42, February 2001


En In memoriam : The gorilla; Urbi et orbi (in Polish); Sommaire en français (avec résumés des articles).


Future scenarios for the forest and timber industry in France, and their link with land management (Isabelle Savini and Bernard Christofini)
Repopulating rural communes in France: a public necessity and individual choice (Bernard Farinelli)
Determinism and systems research applied to dairy farming (Taher Sraïri)
How pork is perceived in France: consumer attitudes (Pierre Rainelli)
Edible and popular beliefs (Jean-Paul Branlard)

The French Agricultural Scenery - Highlights (Repères dans le paysage agricole français)

The CAP and the 2000 Agenda: successes and challenges (Franz Fischler)
Animal feeding practices attacked by society (Daniel Sauvant)
Will the new century be ethical? (Patricia Watenberg)
The end of the Maison-Rouges barrage - Migrant fish are recolonizing the Vienne Basin (France) (Pierre-Marie Chapon)
Touring the watershed: an interactive communication method for the preservation of the quality of water resources (Marc Benoît, Pierre-Yves Bernard)

Other landmarks, other landscapes (Autres repères, autres paysages)

What will become of biotechnologies? (Pietro Rotili)
Assessing the ecological value of an orchard in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) through its lepidopterological population (Michel R. Tarrier)
The Tisza, a dead river (Iván Bòcsa)
The Sierra, Peru (José Bario)


Future scenarios for the forest and timber industry in France, and their link with land management (L)
As economies and environmental issues are being globalised, managing forest resources has become a major stake in the sustainable development of the planet. This was confirmed during the Rio-de-Janeiro conference, in 1992.
There is, in Europe especially, an increasing interest in the preservation and non commercial aspects of woods and forests.
In this article, the authors review the issues at stake, in a European context, i.e. showing the increase of areas planted to or recolonised by forests in France, the industry's chronic deficit and the lack of competitiveness of the French timber market, reporting some key statistics, highlighting the diverse functions of the forest and the increasing weight of environmental issues. The authors then propose two evolution options: a Timber/Non-timber option (political choices for the use of forests) and an economic option in which timber industrialists draw their resources either from local or international sources. The authors have derived four scenarios from their studies, offering public research, amongst others, a stimulating framework for reflection on the evolution of the forest functions and on prospective research to meet future challenges".
by Isabelle Savini and Bernard Cristofini
INRA-DADP, 147, rue de l'Université, 75338 Paris cedex 07

Repopulating rural communes in France: a public necessity and individual choice (L)
"Repopulating the countryside is still a taboo subject, even though a number of recent evolutions have at last begun to open the debate: favourable polls, idyllic representations, recognised associations, the creation of administrative cells or specialised schemes."
Over 11 000 French communes are depopulated. In order to attract incomers, some communes put forward the economic attraction of new activities, when what they should put forward is the real asset of the land, the local people. There are many obstacles to successful integration. Incomers may find it difficult to settle in due to the sociological difficulties and technical constraints that go along with this kind of project. There are however obvious economic, sociological and philosophical advantages for the community.
The wish to "go and live in the country" is definitely there. This makes one ask oneself about the nature of the land people covet and the system of values that leads men and women to change their life-style and to start over again in the countryside.
"It is possible to repopulate rural communes today. In this reality, each person finds reasons to hope, to share a common view of the natural and cultural heritage, and to establish new relationships with nature and amongst people."
(Bibliography included)
by Bernard Farinelli
La Thébaïde, chemin des Fagots, 63290 Limons

Determinism and systems research applied to dairy farming (L)
Towards the middle of the XIXth century, a new doctrine defined animal science as animal production based on experimental science. It's fundamental characteristic consisted in "the way livestock was considered within a rural economy". However, recently, many researchers have pointed out the failure of animal science approaches in resolving the present crisis in the livestock industry in developed as well as in developing countries. In an even more demanding way, domestic animals in developing countries have such diverse and complex roles (savings, production tools, social status, religious impact…) that the results of animal science conventional approaches are even less adapted and impose a systems approach to farming issues.
The article consists in five main points:
1. Terminology and research concepts on farming systems
2. Determinism and research evolution on farming systems
3. Research approaches to farming systems applied to livestock activities
4. Research tools and methods on livestock systems: the case of dairy cattle
5. Research assets and limits on dairy farming systems.
by Mohamed Taher Sraïri
Institut agronomique et vétérinaire Hassan II, BP 6202, Rabat-Instituts, 10101 Rabat (Maroc)

How pork is perceived in France: consumer attitudes (L)
In order to reduce production costs, agricultural production, like all other activities, is now in search of more controlled production processes. This production control is based on the systematic exploitation of economies of scale and of uncertainty. It also entails the artificialisation of the environment and the increasing resort to inputs outside the farm. This is known as the "productivistic model" and its technical success is unquestionable.
However, our sudden passion for so-called natural food (for example, biological food) challenges the mainstream movement of the industrialisation of agricultural production. Representative new attitudes to pork were observed thanks to discussion groups (of roughly ten people) at Rennes, Paris and Bordeaux. These attitudes show up the necessary changes to be made in the pig production systems.
The results are included in a more general reflection including other quantitative elements. The first part of the article is about the different elements of the pork sector. The second part is centred on the attitudes of people, based on results from the consumer's discussion group. The last part concerns the implications of these different attitudes in terms of quality.
by Pierre Rainelli
INRA Économie
rue Adolphe-Bobierre, CS 61103, 35011 Rennes cedex

Edible and popular beliefs (L)
"History shows that food is the foundation of many popular beliefs; even the law sometimes mingles with food to keep things safe. An article that shows the cross-roads between magic, plants, food and the law."
There are three chapters to this article: - The magical effects of representation (the law of contagion, the law of similarity); - The legal effects of repression; - A right for a wrong.
by Jean-Paul Branlard
36, rue Rivay, bât. B, 92300 Levallois-Perret

The CAP and the 2000 Agenda: successes and challenges (L)
The European commissioner's speech: Franz Fischler Opening speech of the 2001 International Green Week, Berlin, January 18, 2001.
Member of the European Commission, Franz Fischler is in charge of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.
You can read his speech on the Europa.web site.

Animal feeding practices attacked by society (L)
"The recent crises in the animal production and animal products sector (dioxin, " mad cow disease"...) have discredited the present way of feeding livestock, and in particular the role of the animal feed industry. The public needs to be given information on this subject, observations and historical facts, in order to understand the debate. [...]
To conclude, the present way of feeding livestock is mainly the result of a slow historical evolution. In every production sector, the technical evolution of the last century was oriented in such a way as to reduce production costs so as to preserve farmers' incomes. It is possible to go back to a more traditional way of feeding and this does actually exist on a small but rapidly increasing scale. This will depend on whether consumers are prepared to pay higher prices for higher quality in commercialised products (see the difference in price between a free-range and an industrially-raised chicken) and/or for production based on strict specifications (biological production…)."
by Daniel Sauvant
Institut national agronomique Paris-Grignon, département des Sciences animales
16, rue Claude-Bernard, 75231 Paris cedex 05

Will the new century be ethical? (L)
This article (an extract from Droit devant, INRA's legal information news letter) highlights, or perhaps stigmatises, a growing trend in matters of ethics in all sectors of public and private life. The questions raised by the blossoming of ethical issues are briefly evoked in this article [...]".
by Patricia Watenberg
147, rue de l'Université, 75338 Paris cedex 07

The end of the Maison-Rouges barrage - Migrant fish are recolonizing the Vienne Basin (France) (L)
Built in the twenties, Maison-Rouges was a barrage on the Vienne river, just downstream from the confluence of the Vienne and the Creuse. It was a real blockade for amphihalin migrant fish. The barrage was destroyed in 1998 and figures have proved that the river has since been recolonized by shad, lamprey, Atlantic salmon and most probably eels (to be confirmed).
by Pierre-Marie Chapon
Conseil supérieur de la pêche, délégation régionale de Poitiers, cellule Migrateurs
112, fg de la Cueille, 86000 Poitiers


Touring the watershed: an interactive communication method for the preservation of the quality of water resources (L)
How can we familiarise farmers with the relationship between farming and the quality of water? And with the notion of watershed?
In order to answer these questions, the authors of this article designed the concept of "touring the watershed". This provides them with an interactive communication method enabling them to present their experimental designs and research results in a field situation that stimulates discussion on the preservation of ground water quality amongst farmers, farm advisors and local representatives.
by Marc Benoît and Pierre-Yves Bernard
with the collaboration of Annie Kung-Benoît and Philippe Lemaire
INRA, station SAD de Mirecourt, BP 29, 88501 Mirecourt cedex
Chambre régionale d'agriculture de Lorraine (put at the disposal of INRA, Mirecourt)
Chambre d'agriculture des Vosges, rue A.-Vitu, 88000 Épinal.

What will become of biotechnologies? (L)
Historical facts and a summary of the present state of GMOs in the US and in Europe lead P. Rotili to ask the following question: "Why are GMOs rejected by Europe and the rest of the planet?".
In this article, he takes a close look at the limits of patents, the actions and goals of multinational firms supplying farmers and, to conclude, he gives his personal opinion on "The future of mankind and biotechnologies", referring both to Darwin and Theilhard de Chardin.
Pietro Rotili
Istituto sperimentale per le colture foraggere
29, viale Piacenza, 275 Lodi (Italy)
Article first published in Ambiente Risorce Salute n°72 (March-April 2000) under the title " Il futuro delle biotecnologie ",
Translated from Italian by Dominique de Biasi, proposed to Courrier readers by Pierre Guy.

Assessing the ecological value of an orchard in the Atlas Mountains (Morocco) through its lepidopterological population (L)
This (irrigated) orchard is cultivated in a traditional way. Pest treatments are classical, but modern. The rich Rhopalocera fauna shows a high ecological value: and includes insects such as Lepidoptera Papilionoidea, i.e. butterflies belonging to sensitive stenoecic species that feed on the abundant and varied nutritive plants that can be found there.
Located on the edge of an arid area, in a steppe landscape, this isolated orchard constitutes a new ecotope.
The species recorded are presented in a spreadsheet, along with their ecological characteristics. For both entomologists and ecologists.
by Michel R. Tarrier
Apartado 15553, 29080 Málaga, Espagne

The Tisza, a dead river (L)
On January 30th, 2000, near Baia Mare in Rumania, an enormous amount of cyanide-polluted water (estimated at roughly 100.000 m3) poured into a small stream. In turn, this water poured into the Somes river (Szamos). After having covered 60 km in Hungary, the polluted water poured into the Tisza, one of the main tributaries of the Danube. A kind of aquatic Chernobyl…
by Iván Bòcsa
Institut de recherches agronomiques, 3356 Kompolt (Hongrie)

The Sierra, Peru (L)
"For my job, I recently travelled to the Andes, in the South of the "Departamento de Lima", in the high valley of río Cañete (provincia de Yauyos). For a week, six of us (economists, geographers, agronomists) took part in this expedition, travelling in two four-wheel drives."
This article sums up our journey.
By José Barrio

Translation: Nicola Scott