Volume 17, Number 6, November-Décembre 2010Dossier : Palmier à huile et développement durable
|Page(s)||375 - 384|
|Section||Agronomie – Environnement|
|Published online||15 November 2010|
Quelles questions éthiques posent la production de palmier à huile et la recherche sur les biocarburants ?
Cirad, 42, rue Scheffer, 75116 Paris, France
2 Agrocampus ouest, Département économie rurale et gestion, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France
3 University of Brasilia, Centre for sustainable development Brésil
4 Inra, Versailles, France
At present, palm oil and biofuels arouse both hopes and fears. Palm oil, which is very important for the economy of several Asian and African countries and is used mostly by the food industry and oleochemisty, and very little as for biofuels, has positive and negative impacts on the use of land and the climate. Its production is often criticized from a social point of view and the quality of its oil is discussed from a nutritional point of view. A number of devices are set to encourage firms growing palm trees to have an ethical and deontological approach. Agricultural research institutions (and researchers individually) are increasingly constrained by ethical issues related to biofuels. In France, the Joint Ethics Committee of Inra (Institut national de la recherche agronomique) and Cirad (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) has recently worked on this question. Biofuels appear as a revealing (in the chemical sense) of a crack in the ethos of those institutions. Cirad and Inra both carry out mission-oriented research. For years, researchers have worked to increase productivity and agricultural revenues, improve food security and market stabilization, reduce inequalities, etc. This mission-oriented research was a moral bail to agricultural productivity. Environmental damages provoked by agriculture and development policies leading to a wide range of problems are undermining the ethos of the two research institutions. Biofuels research, in large terms, is revealing difficulties as different research issues are competing among themselves. The Committee recommended revising the meaning of “mission-oriented research” and made specific recommendations on how to deal with some ethical questions related to biofuels research.
Key words: oil palm / ethics / biofuels / agricultural research
© John Libbey Eurotext 2010
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