Conferences and seminars

Higher Education Institution Agronomy, food, environment


Put our research activities at the heart of the future agricultural and food challenges.


Christophe David Vice-Dean

Conferences and seminars

In a view to raise the public awareness to the major challenges in relation to agroecology and sustainable food systems, ISARA-Lyon organizes every year series of conferences and seminars on agroecology and sustainable food systems.

International conference on agroecology, 25-27 October 2017, in Lyon, France


From 25 to 27 October 2017, Lyon, France, the first Forum of the Agroecology Europe Association, was hosted by ISARA. It has been a time of gathering, sharing and discussing among the actors who animate the agroecology movement to build a common understanding for the future of food and agriculture in Europe and in the world.

Over 310 people from farmers, technicians, researchers, students, political decision-makers, representatives of national and European institutions, non-governmental organizations, social movements and civil society have created a participatory and in-depth discussion of multiple topics and shared their perspectives.

The event was co-organized by Agroecology Europe, ISARA-Lyon, Cultivate!, Friends of the Earth Europe, Oxfam Solidarité, MISEREOR and SEAE. The participants came from 28 countries in Europe and worldwide, including presence from Latin America, North America, Africa, and Asia.

Conference and debate: human behaviours and economic models to preserve biodiversity – in collaboration with the Acteurs de l’Economie – La Tribune

Do we still love our planet? – 24 November 2014

do we still love our planet





Gilles Bœuf, an Oceanographer and the President of Paris Museum of Natural History , Roger Guesnerie, an economist, and Patrick Viveret, a philosopher, highlighted alarming facts about our planet.

Climate change and the damages caused to the environment raise the collective awareness on the threats facing our Earth. It is essential to cast aside "the economic model producing wealth while destroying or overexploiting our natural resources" advises Gilles Bœuf. We shall take into account two main factors: the degree of uncertainty about the future, which must be the main reason for acting, and the nature of the common property to preserve. "We are accountable to the next generations, to which we must leave a world in a good shape" warns the economist.   "We’ll understand our present and imagine our future only if we look back at where we’ve been".

Our planet will face three main challenges in the future, according to Roger Guesnerie: first the demographic explosion, then the globalization of the exchanges, and finally the climate change. To settle these problems, we must establish new global governance rules and, according to Patrick Viveret “build the foundations for a planetary citizenship”.

Conference on agroecology

Nitrogen storage in catch crop: the below-ground contribution - 8 October 2014

Speaker:  Florian Wichern, Professor at Rhein-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Kleve (Germany)

In the area of Kleve nitrate concentration in ground water is high because it is due to nutrients leaching in agricultural soils. Catch crops are among efficient methods to reduce this phenomenon.


Florian Wichern presented research results on the comparison between two catch crops, and their efficiency regarding nitrogen storage in plant roots. The phenomenon of rhizodeposition, i.e. the release by plant roots of organic and inorganic compounds with high nitrogen contents, also plays a huge role.

Jar experiments showed that when the plant profits from a larger soil volume to develop (a different jar size), the quantity of nitrogen found in its roots is higher, and its ability to take off nitrogen is also higher. This leads to a reduced nutrients leaching.


Effect of Climate Change on the Distribution of Damaging Weeds - 4 June 2014

Speaker: Dr Antonio DiTommaso - Weed Science, Cornell University


Dr Antonio DiTommaso (Associate Professor, Weed Science, Cornell University) presented the impact of climate change on plant communities through the analysis of the evolution of weed populations.


His study highlighted the migration of the weeds from the South to the North of the USA as a consequence of the increase in the average temperatures of these regions.

Dr. DiTommaso also presented further major impacts of the climate change on the weeds as the reduced efficiency of herbicides and the migration of pest populations.

These changes have huge impacts on the agricultural sectors, which must find solutions to anticipate and adjust to them. Methods have been developed to plan the evolution of weed communities: the observation of the communities in warmer areas and their implementation in the current system; the modelling of weed evolution with regards to climate data.


The nutritional and sanitary quality of organic products and the impact of their consumption on health - 28 February 2014

Denis Lairon, Emeritus research director at the French Institute of Health and Medical research (INSERM), a biochemist and nutritionist, coordinated the working group and report published in 2003 by the French Agency for Food Safety on the “nutritional and sanitary quality of organic products”. He presented the results of his studies on this subject.  

The development of organic products should be based on their nutritional and sanitary quality and respond to the recommendations in the field of food and its relation with health.

Denis Lairon

Organic products contain a higher level of dry matter, antioxydants, sometimes also of vitamins and fatty acids than conventional products. Food is the first source of chemical contamination via pesticides – forbidden in organic agriculture but authorized in conventional agriculture – which lead to several professional diseases (leukemia, tumors…). The content in pesticides is lower in organic food than in conventional food.

Progress remains to be made in order to develop sustainable food systems. The current production system should be changed in order to implement local solutions responding to the following question: which is the closest production system that works best?

Conference-debate on rural France in partnership with Acteurs de l'Economie - La Tribune

Well-being, healthy life and entrepreneurship: the lessons taught by rural France – 27 november 2013


Axel KAHN (a genetician and former President of Paris-Descartes University) gave an overview of Rural France, after a three-month travel of over 2,000 km in French countryside.

“In several regions, I witnessed industrial disasters, but fortunately agriculture is still alive… Farmers do well in often hostile territories, building on geographical and protected indications of origin and local specificities to produce excellent food. Agriculture is the real strength of rural France… It creates wealth.”

Jean-Robert PITTE, a geographer specialized in French landscape history and the author of several works on gastronomy, explained that the strength of rural France is its dynamic agriculture: “Rural territories who know how to produce tasty and healthy food, and how to sell this food building on its link to the local culture and history are good examples to follow. This is true for wine, but also for cheese and cooked pork meats. We can be proud of the place where we live, value it while remaining opened to the world to sale our produce.”

Both speakers made the same assessment: France is a highly contrasted country and the huge potential of its countryside should be valued. To this aim, it is necessary to re-think the development of the territory and to offer solutions in the fields of education and health.

Rural France is beautiful, wealthy, and proud of its terroirs! Here are the values that urban France could borrow to rural France.


Conference-debate on social business - 30 May 2013


Emmanuel FABER, Vice-President and Executive Director of the Group Danone. He developed Danone "social business" practices in the Bangladesh with Grameen Danone Food and established danone.communities.

After an experience in the world of finance, Emmanuel Faber wants to give sense to his life. He then enters the Group Danone which is known to pay attention to the human dimension of the company. 

In this spirit, he starts promoting social business, the most known success of which is Danone's subsidary created in Bangladesh with the Grameen Danone Food of Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize and inventor of the micro-credit. The concept: establish a production plant of cheap highly nutritious yoghourt for Bangladesh children. The industrial site bases its activities on the local economic  fabric to create activity and contribute to local development: the milk is produced by local breeders, supplied by Indian women, and the activity is resource-efficient, environmentally friendly but also financially viable.

An innovative and concrete way to show that social business is a key to meet real needs in a market economy. Emmanuel Faber -  "Chemins de traverse, vivre l'économie autrement" (Albin Michel, 2011).

Conference-debate on the biodiversity in partnership with Fondation Nature Vivante

Local production, better food - 12 April 2013


Vandana SHIVA, Indian physician, is a key figure of modern ecology. Right Livelihood Award, (equivalent of the Nobel Prize in "alternative" sciences), she has been fighting for over 30 years for biodiversity conservation.

Vandana Shiva gave a talk at ISARA-Lyon to raise public awareness on the absolute need to free agriculture and seeds of any lobbying, in order to protect biodiversity. World icon for the freedom of seeds, Vandana described her struggle to maintain Indian farmers on their land and to conserve their independency from any major seed company. 

She incited the students in agronomy and food science to work for a local quality agriculture, preserved from the pressure of markets and companies.

Conference-debate on pesticides

Navigating a Critical Juncture: The Need for an Ecologically-based Pest Management Approach - 16 May 2013

DAVE MORTENSEN, Professor of Weed and Applied Plant Ecology at PennState University (United-States). He studies the interplay between the ecology of agricultural fields, field edges and forest fragments. His work takes an ecological landscape approach of biotics and biotics interplays.


Dave Mortensen presented an alternative solution to the use of herbicide-resistant GMO seeds for a more ecological integrated weed management. Weed management lead to the development of herbicide-resistant GMO seeds (first glyphosates, then other herbicides) which enabled large-scale application of herbicides without harming the crops. Unfortunately, the weed species became more and more resistent to the herbicide used, leading to the development of OGM-crops resisting to new herbicide molecules, which in turn lead to the proliferation of new - even more resistent - weed species...

Integrated weed management includes a set of practices (crop rotation, limited soil tillage, cover crops...) based on ecological principles, and the targeted application of given herbicides. Long-term studies in the US have proven that this weed management method leads to yields that are at least equivalent to the ones obtained in systems based on a GMO-herbicide combination. It is also a way to maintain soil quality and biodiversity and it reduces environmental and health damage caused by the massive use of herbicides.

New incitative policies should be developed to promote the application of integrated weed management systems. Environmental protection agencies should especially require that any requestion for the authorization of a GMO-herbicide combination takes into account weed resistance risks.

Conference-debate in partnership with the Acteurs de l’Economie and la Tribune

Sustainable production and consumption: an illusion? - 3 December 2012

Pierre RABHI, the founder of Colibris, farmer, writer and thinker, is one of the pioneers of agroecology in France. He promotes a society that is more respectful of the people and the land, and supports the development of agricultural practices accessible to everyone, and especially the most vulnerable and poorest citizens, while protecting our environmental heritage. He is now recognized as an international expert for food security and he participated to the development of the UN Convention to combat desertification.


Serge PAPIN, CEO of Système U succeeding in transforming this business into a major stakeholder of French food retail. He is also the author of the following book: "Consommer moins, consommer mieux" in collaboration with Jean-Marie Pelt and Céline Rouden (Ed. Autrement, 2009).

Both Serge Papin and Pierre Rabhi are committed to the development of organic produce and local production taking human health into account... but in different ways.

According to Pierre Rabhi, food additives, pesticides and GMO are harmful for the health. He states that food comes from the earth, which is a living organism that must be preserved. In his opinion, changes will be conducted through education.

The CEO of Système U reckons that 100% of major raw materials (flour, eggs, milk…) can be organically produced. And he can prove it: the price of the botlle of organic milk in his shops is close to one euro. 

International conference European Network Of Organic Agriculture And Agroecology University Teachers (ENOAT)

Teaching agroecology and organic agriculture - August 2012

ISARA-Lyon hosted an international conference on teaching practices in agroecology and organic agriculture (ENOAT= European Network of Organic Agriculture and Agroecology University Teachers).

During three days, 27 participants coming from 16 European countries (Poland, Germany, Bulgaria, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia, Norway, Lettland, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovak Republic, the Netherlands, Finland and France) and the United States discussed the issues raised by double degrees programs existing between ISARA-Lyon and European partners on agroecology, in order to study the development of cooperation with new universities.


Sophie Rotteleur

International Relations Department

+33 - 427 85 85 51


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