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"Tribune libre"

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: « Conserver la nature, utiliser ses bienfaits »

by Elisabeth Jeskulke, agricultural engineer and manager of Sustainable Development, Division of Sofiprotéol

" Conserve Nature, Use its Benefits "

Translated Tuesday 3 August 2010, by Varteny Pamboukian and reviewed by Bill Scoble

Biodiversity is indispensable for maintaining economic activities and developing
our enterprises. Therefore, we are responsible for preserving it as a fundamental resource. And in order to obtain this result, teamwork is necessary. It is about realizing projects in collaboration with the NGOs, scientists, politicians and economists. This way of working is extremely difficult, since we must work as much as possible on a local level. For example, it is important to keep natural spaces uncultivated until we recognize the real value of the natural resources in question. Thus, we can conserve the richness of nature yet continue to use its benefits.

There are already good examples in many industrial sectors. Today, they are spreading in the form of « good practices ». Protecting our essential natural resources is part of the mission of collective interest set by Sofiprotéol, the industrial and financial organization of the French vegetable oils and proteins sector. These are the people who produce and transform oilseeds (colza, sunflower…) and protein crops (pea, field bean…) and who work for the protection of biodiversity, for the use of transport as rationally as possible, and for the solidarity of the whole agricultural world. The cultivation of these plants allows producing many goods and services from the same area of agricultural soils: proteins used for animal feed, salad oil, biofuels and renewable constituents for biochemistry.

Maintaining biodiversity goes in fact to the optimization of the use of the soil, not only to produce food or energy, but especially to conserve its natural richness. This is all the more important when planting oleaginous and protein crops, because this allows crop rotation that limits parasites. Not only are fewer pesticides used, but also the structure and the biodiversity of the soil (bacteria, fungus and micro vertebrae) are improved. When the soil is protected, the quality of the water tables and the rivers is maintained, and indeed improved. Colza, sunflower, peas and field beans are crops that have a positive impact on the environment and on the land.

Sofiprotéol set up years ago a process to let the producers of Diester become successful. This process allows for diagnosing and improving agricultural practices with the aim of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, the use of nitrates and pesticides, thereby increasing the protection of biodiversity. We want to preserve the yields of the agricultural world; this is an important goal. Our organization has invested heavily for 5 years in France and has created many jobs related to agriculture by protecting natural resources. We must also keep using as much as possible local agricultural production, thereby establishing, along with competent partners, a policy of durable, transparent and realistic development.

Finally, the protection of biodiversity must be measured through inventories, balance sheets and real-time indicators that will allow the professions related to
agriculture to recognize and to prevent the potential risks. Agriculture is one of the first and most important benefits that nature allows, and it can play a
great role in the deep awareness and protection of biodiversity.

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