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1970s: a shift towards agri-food

In the 1970s, France became an exporter of food products and began to face surpluses in some sectors. New objectives were therefore required in terms of product quality and added value. From this period onwards, INRA’s research also dealt with processing agricultural “raw materials.” Microbiology and engineering sciences developed. The number of partnerships with industry, especially SMEs and SMIs, grew rapidly, and INRA helped create regional agri-food centres. France became the world’s largest exporter of agri-food products – agriculture was presented as “green fuel.” The 1973 energy crisis led INRA to focus on subjects related to the environment and local development – a “more economical and autonomous agriculture", in the words of INRA’s president Jacques Poly (1978).