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Axel Kahn, President of the INRA-CIRAD-IFREMER Ethics Committee. © INRA, MAITRE  Christophe

The INRA-CIRAD Ethics Committee is extended to include IFREMER

On 11 April 2016, the Joint Consultative Ethics Committee of INRA-CIRAD was renewed and extended to include IFREMER. Its presidency has been entrusted to Axel Kahn, Doctor of Science and Medicine, and for the first time, a Vice President has been nominated: Michel Badré, member of the Economic, Social and Environmental Council.

Updated on 05/24/2016
Published on 04/06/2016
Keywords: ethics

The Joint Consultative Ethics Committee of INRA – CIRAD – IFREMER, inaugurated on 11 April 2016, operates at the level of the presidency of the three institutes. Its mission is to provide a forum for reflection, counsel, awareness-building and, if need be, alert. The broadening of this committee to include IFREMER is concomitant with the end of the mandate of six members of the INRA-CIRAD Ethics Committee for agricultural research (2007-2015), including its President, Louis Schweitzer, who presented a report at the INRA board meeting on 8 December 2015. This Monday, the three Presidents of the institutes accorded the honour of their presence at the Committee’s inaugural session in INRA’s Counsel Chamber. Axel Kahn opened the meeting at 9:30 am sharp and greeted each member one by one as they arrived.

A core of common values

On behalf of INRA, François Houllier informed the new members of the long-standing tradition of an editorial accompanying, or even completing, each opinion the Committee puts forth. INRA’s President also emphasized the importance of values: "A Committee like this and institutes like ours need values. But you will be given free reign to re-visit them”.
On behalf of CIRAD, Michel Eddi then confirmed the importance of these common values held up by the committee’s work: “In an institute like ours, ethics and values guide each step we take together. I cannot overstate my complete commitment to the work that you do, which is so vital to opening the doors to dialogue. It is a good thing to maintain a certain intellectual pressure”.
Lastly, François Jacq from Ifremer, new to the team, wrapped things up nimbly: "Ifremer is the newcomer here. But we have always had one thing in common throughout our histories, something that we have wrongly neglected. That is why we are here today to mark a new beginning. This joint committee is the best and the most desirable solution possible. It is also a concrete sign of our capacity to work together”.  

Research on the exploitation of natural environments

Axel Kahn, the Committee’s new President, concluded: “[This Ethics Committee serves] the three main national public research bodies for the exploitation of open spaces, land and sea. The very term exploitation of the natural environment by humans immediately underscores the nature of the ethical questions linked to the activities of these research institutes: provide the inhabitants of our planet with what they need to live. Food and work, of course, but also beauty and well-being, without ever forgetting that future generations have the right to the same things”.

Comité d'éthique Inra Cirad Ifremer, présidé par Axel Kahn. © INRA, MAITRE Christophe

Composition of the Ethics Committee

The INRA-CIRAD-IFREMER Ethics Committee consists of 14 members. Half of it is renewed, with six new members coming on board on 11 April 2016. Members are nominated by a joint decision of the Presidents of INRA, CIRAD and IFREMER, after consultation with the board of directors on the part of INRA and CIRAD.

List of the 14 members >

Interview

Michel Badré: "Bringing a fresh perspective"

Portrait of Michel Badré, vice-president of the Ethics Committee. © INRA, MAITRE Christophe
Portrait of Michel Badré, vice-president of the Ethics Committee © INRA, MAITRE Christophe
You have been appointed Vice President of the INRA-Cirad-Ifremer Ethics Committee. What does that mean for you?
I am very honoured, very intellectually curious, but also very humbled. Because of all the committee members, I think I’m the furthest from the standard profile: I have no experience in research or philosophy. My profile is part of the ones they wanted to broaden the scope of things. I hope I can deliver. My primary concern will always be to ask what purpose human intervention in natural environments serves. What makes a good project?

What do you think exchange and discussion in the committee will be like?
All throughout my career, I have been struck by the power and the importance of collaborative discussion, and by the added value that debate and exchange bring. We are going to have to look at the social acceptability of our domains: how will 66 million citizens, or 7 billion fellow citizens among us throughout the world, react to what is being done in science and research?

You are the Vice President of a Committee presided over by Axel Kahn... How are you going to share your responsibilities?
Intuitively, when it comes to organisation, we are going to adhere to the established custom. In a collaborative approach such as that of the Committee, I see my role as one of a regulator. This is often a role given to the one with the most experience, because he knows how to keep a discussion on track or pick up on a point that needs to be explored in greater depth. Our backgrounds and our experiences are different and complement each other. I bring another perspective with my experience at the French national forestry commission or Ministry of the Environment in defining public policy.