Managing to preserve the world's resources while alleviating poverty and inequality is a major issue for sustainable development, and for global geopolitical equilibria and the relations between industrialized countries and the wide range of developing countries.
INRA and CIRAD* are planning a prospective study on agriculture and food worldwide in 2035 (Agrimonde), over two years (2006 and 2007). The study should serve to foresee the role of French and European agriculture in the different global change scenarios and pinpoint the fundamental issues with which agricultural research will be faced. This prospective exercise will give CIRAD and INRA the means to forecast and prepare for the future in terms of publi research systems and priorities as well as of their strategic position on an international level.
The study as a whole will be based on the results of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (an international assessment and prospective exercise on ecosystems ordered by the UN in 2001 and conducted between 2001 and 2005) and will fit in with current work under the International Agricultural Assessment of Science and Technologies for Development (IAASTD, an agricultural prospective study launched in 2002 by the United Nations and the World Bank).
INRA and CIRAD are both commissioners and joint project managers. The Head of the INRA prospective studies unit is in charge of the operation, which will be conducted by a mixed CIRAD-INRA team. A committee of experts, consisting of around twenty people chosen for their expertise, will provide scientific and methodological advice. The results of the work are due to be published in 2008.
* INRA and CIRAD conduct research on issues linked to agriculture, food and food safety, the environment and territorial management, with particular emphasis on sustainable development. INRA is more interested in temperate areas and CIRAD in the intertropical belt.
Helen Burford | alfa
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Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
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Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
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Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
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For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
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