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Covered market at Brive la Gaillarde. © INRA, Bertrand NICOLAS

Towards more sustainable food supplies

Updated on 02/14/2017
Published on 12/16/2012

DuALIne (2009-2011) was a foresight workshop organised by INRA and CIRAD. It focused on sustainability of food supplies downstream of the agrifood industries (or in other words from the farm gate to the consumer's plate), and was designed to identify the key points and questions posed to research.

Why was duALIne carried out?

The food challenge faced by the human race seeing demographic growth is considerable.  It is necessary not only to supply the world's population with food that can meet its vital needs in terms of quality and quantity, but also to achieve this in compliance with the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental.  The duALIne project (on the sustainability of food supplies faced with new challenges) was able to identify the critical points and questions posed to research in this context.  More than a hundred experts examined the international literature on the subject and shared their thinking in order to propose areas for action.

What was the originality of duALIne?

DuALIne took account of, and analysed, the downstream aspects of different sectors.  This was justified insofar as studies have shown that in the USA, for example, the energy costs of downstream sectors are four times higher than those of agriculture, and those of home-based activities are 1.5 times higher. DuALIne thus complemented the findings of the Agrimonde foresight study carried out by INRA and CIRAD from 2006 to 2009, which had focused on the quantitative balance in 2050 between needs and agricultural production.  As a general rule, the numerous studies previously carried out both nationally and internationally had mainly concerned the challenges faced by agriculture and focused little on downstream sectors: from the farm gate to the consumer's plate, and waste.  It had become clear that there were many gaps in our knowledge of this field.   

DuALIne reviewed and broadened the notion of sustainability, long focused on fossil energy consumption (in the 1980s) or environmental impacts (in the 1990s), although account also needs to be taken of social (access to food for all), economic (industrial efficiency, employment) and health (deficiencies, health quality of foods) challenges.  DuALIne thus addressed the complexity of food systems, taking account of their cultural, social, economic and local dimensions and not solely the need to meet quantitative, health and nutritional needs.

DuALIne, the book

Book cover of Dualine - CUP. © INRA
2013 : Esnouf, C., Russel, M. et Bricas, N. (Eds), Food System Sustainability. Insights from duALIne, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 303 p.

For more information, consult the Cambridge University Press website