Agriculture has always been considered as a strategic issue as the recent hunger riots remind us. In fact, industrialized countries have developed very strong agricultural policies since the mid 20th century in order to “modernize” their agricultural sector. Agricultural research has been deeply committed in these state policies aimed at improving the sector especially through training, extension and farmers' organization. It has contributed to in-depth change in the production systems but also among peasant and rural societies. While the last 50 years were driven by technological development in order to increase land and labor productivity based on genetics and increasing external inputs leading to farms concentration and specialization, agronomy is now facing environmental and food quality issues linked to diets and public health. Will agronomy be able to overcome technological issues and develop new paradigms taking into account ecological systems, agricultural workers’ health and consumers’ demands? This question arises in France as well as at the global level regarding food security and the fate global ecosystems for the fifty forthcoming years.
By Bernard Hubert