Politics of Flower Power

Together with a collaborator from Kew gardens, two researchers from ENS de Lyon mobilize the plant genetics community to the political challenges associated with the social and environmental crisis, in a featured review in Trends in Plant Science.

This paper brings together concepts that have not been jointly considered previously, i.e., biomass, critical zone, planetary boundaries, and planetary health.

There is no certainty that current projections of biomass requirements will be met unless plant production is systematically linked to improved land-use and water management and related policies.

In order to develop wise policies and management practices for robust sustainability, the following ideas and issues are put forward :

  • Our civilization depends on a triad encompassing soil, water and biomass. Our civilization thus depends on plants ;
  • A retrospective view on plant kingdom evolution highlights unique attributes of flowering plants in the rise and stability of modern civilization ;
  • Excessive human appropriation of biomass demonstrates our ignorance of the crucial needs for soil, water, and biomass for the ecosystem to self-regenerate. Biomass, a renewable resource in essence, is becoming limiting and exhaustible ;
  • Plant blindness remains pervasive and flowering plants are the forgotten item on the stakeholders’ menu, even though stakeholders highlight the need for a circular bio-economy in the future ;
  • After many decades of efforts towards short-term performance, agriculture. and technology should switch to questions and solutions on long-term resilience.

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