The visit of the Ethics in Common Committee members at the Ifremer Atlantique Centre in Nantes on May 15th 2023 was highlighted by four main keynotes:

  •  A plenary meeting where the committee members debated three main topics: i) the draft guidance on the referral "Exploration of unknown and moderately anthropised environments - explore, preserve, exploit", for which the committee discussed the exchanges that took place on April 24 2023 between Ifremer researchers of the Physical Resources and Ecosystems of the Seabed (REM) department; ii) the ongoing self-referral "What are the rights and duties for scientists and their institutions in the face of an environmental emergency? "; and iii) the choice of a future referral to be dealt with.
  • Lunch in the presence of François Houiller, CEO of Ifremer, Chantal Compère, Acting Scientific Director, and Dominique Guegen, Deputy Director of the Ifremer Atlantique Centre.
  • A visit to the eco-designed BATIMER building (2,500 m2 on 3 levels), which was inaugurated in March 2023 and accommodates shared scientific facilities. The building houses the research teams of the PHYTOX unit (Physiology and Toxins of Toxic and Harmful Microalgae), the LER/MPL (Morbihan-Pays de la Loire Environment and Resources Laboratory), and the research team recently set up to work on the new "Contaminants, Sea, Health" Blue Chair. Anthony Bertucci presented the Chair's scientific mission, which aims to study the microbiome in the face of contamination to assess 'symbiotoxicity', i.e. the ability of a pollutant to impact an organism by disrupting the structure or functioning of its microbiome.
  • Active discussions with Ifremer staff present and those of other organisations participating remotely. These discussions focused on the self-referral: "What are the rights and duties of scientists and their institutions in the face of an environmental emergency"? Following Madeleine Akrich's presentation of the draft guidance, there were many exchanges between the committee and the audience. Among the issues that were discussed: the difficulties encountered by researchers when questioned during public presentations on issues outside their sphere of competence, the evaluation of research issues, contracts with the private sector or requests from the State, and the processing and communication chains between scientists and other stakeholders. Michel Badré, president of the committee, called on the staff of the four institutes to contribute to the draft guidance, which can be consulted online.

The next meeting will be held on Monday July 3rd 2023 at the INRAE headquarters in Paris. François Houiller, CEO of Ifremer, as well as Geneviève Pons and Sébastien Treyer, co-chairs of Ifremer's Stakeholder Committee, will speak about the draft guidance on the current referral.


Photo: the membres of the Ethics in Common Committee during the plenary meeting at Nantes on May 15th 2023 - Credit: IRD