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2015 INRA Awards. Rapeseed Research Group: Marie-Hélene Balesdent, Hortense Brun, Régine Delourme, Michel Renard. Institute of Genetics, Environment and Plant Protection, INRA Le Rheu, Rennes. © INRA, MAITRE  Christophe

Rapeseed Research Group: scientists with an impact

The 2015 Science with an Impact Award goes to the Rapeseed Group, which is made up of more than 50 researchers who have devoted all or some of their research to improving rapeseed plants and flowers and protecting rapeseed from pests and diseases. Curtain-raiser on an impact which has changed our everyday life.

Updated on 09/09/2016
Published on 12/08/2015

40 years of research and innovation of the Rapeseed Group have transformed our countrysides by colouring them bright yellow in spring... Their research has made rapeseed, now cultivated on more than a million hectares, apt to provide a high quality oil for food, diester for our engines, cosmetic or pharmaceutical products and feed for our livestock.

Six researchers, ambassadors of the group, represent the high points of this success. Questioned on the reasons behind this success, they talk about what shaped the identity and dynamics of the Rapeseed Group:

  • Synergies with private breeders, the agricultural profession and rapeseed processing companies, who made it possible to coordinate goals and means;
  • Exchanges between researchers, the quality of which enabled each person to progress in a complementary rather than a competitive manner;
  • Transdisciplinarity: geneticists, molecular biologists, pathologists, agronomists, zoologists, biochemists shared research questions, their doubts, their results and mutually enriched their research;
  • International aspect: essential collaborations with scientists from other institutes in the world, both concerning rapeseed and its worst enemy, the fungi responsible for blackleg;
  • Concern for making the innovation available for the consumer, breeding the most adapted plants for the market, making sure the innovative varieties are available and reliable for the agricultural world and making genetic progress accessible to private breeders for research purposes. The royalties from commercialised varieties makes it possible to finance new research at INRA;
  • Confidence of INRA leaders, such as Jacques Poly, who from the beginning supported the orientations of the group and backed them politically. Confidence also from the heads of the research divisions on research topics which were sometimes off the beaten track.

They all agree on one essential point: there would not have been as strong an impact in society without excellent fundamental research.