It was last April 30 in Paris, during the graduation ceremony of the prestigious AgroParisTech institute: eight young recent graduates took the floor to invite the rest of their class to ” to leave the posts of destructive engineers » that we offer them. An intervention that does not lack guts, in the opulent decor of a room that Gaveau filled for the occasion.
Lola Keraron, agronomist, gave her graduation speech in good company: seven of her classmates from AgroParisTech were with her for the occasion. Together we give each other courage, and it was essential to dare such an introduction:
†The 2022 graduates are today reunited for the last time at AgroParisTech after three or four years.
Many of us don’t want to pretend to be proud and earn this diploma at the end of a training that drives globally to participate in the social and environmental ravages that are underway.†
And she adds:
† Rather, we see that agribusiness is waging a war against the living and the farmers all over the world. (…) We do not believe in sustainable development or green growth †
The ex-students took turns speaking, to polite applause from the quiet room.
Biting criticism of AgroParisTech
They didn’t mince their words. Too bad if AgroParisTech enjoys a reputation of prestige, still widely regarded as the reference institute in the field of training of agricultural engineers.
†Tampering with plants in the lab for multinationals that increasingly enslave farmers. Design prepared meals and chemotherapy to then treat the induced patients. Create “good conscience” labels to trick executives into believing they are being heroic by eating better than others. Or count frogs and butterflies so that concrete workers can legally make them disappear.†
Desert to rule better
In their speeches, young graduates address those in their class” who doubts “. In addition to the criticism, there is a strong message, carried by common values: to reclaim ” knowledge and know-how “, fight against ” malicious projects “, practice ” a popular, decolonial and feminist ecology on a daily basis. †
And to prove that other horizons are possible, they testify: they live in the mountains, in a ZAD, in a collective, one prepares a beekeeping installation and the other fights against the grabbing of agricultural land.
without waiting fore 12th report of the IPCC The speech of these agro-deserters is a call to action, for the attention of all generations: with courage and seriousness, they call on others to fork.
“My decision has been made, I’m going to desert,” sang Boris Vian. And since we can’t leave Earth, let’s try to take care of it.
The full speech:
“The 2022 graduates are today reunited for the last time after three or four years at AgroParisTech.
Many of us don’t want to pretend to be proud and earn this diploma at the end of training that forces us globally to participate in the social and environmental ravages that are underway.
We do not see ourselves as the “talents of a sustainable planet”.
We don’t see environmental and social destruction as “problems” or “challenges” for which we as engineers should find “solutions”.
We do not believe that we need “all agriculture”.
Rather, we see that agribusiness is waging a war against the living and the farmers all over the world.
We do not see science and technology as neutral and apolitical.
We believe that technological innovation or start-ups will save nothing but capitalism.
We do not believe in sustainable development or green growth
Not even to ‘ecological transition’, an expression that implies that society can become sustainable without letting go of the dominant social order.
AgroParisTech trains hundreds of students every year to work for the industry in a variety of ways:
Tampering with plants in the lab for multinationals that increasingly enslave farmers.
Design prepared meals and chemotherapy to then treat the induced patients,
Create “good conscience” labels to enable executives to believe themselves heroically by eating better than others,
Developing so-called “green” energies that make it possible to accelerate the digitization of society while polluting and exploiting on the other side of the world,
Drafting CSR reports [Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale] the longer and more delirious the more the crimes they mask are scandalous,
Or count frogs and butterflies so that concrete workers can legally make them disappear,
In our view, these jobs are destructive and choosing them is harming by serving the interests of a few.
If our course at AgroParisTech has highlighted these opportunities for us, we have never been told about graduates who believe that these professions are more part of the problems than the solutions and who have chosen to desert.
We address those who doubt,
To you who took a job because “you need a first experience”,
To you whose relatives work to maintain the capitalist system,
And who feel the weight of their gaze on your professional choices,
To you who, sitting behind a desk, looking out the window, dreaming of space and freedom,
You who take the TGV every weekend, in search of a well-being never found,
For you who feel an unease arise without being able to name it,
Who often thinks this world is crazy,
Who want to do something but don’t know what,
Or those hoping to change things from within and don’t really believe in it anymore,
We doubted, and sometimes we still doubt. But we decided to look for other ways, to refuse to serve this system and to build our own roads.
How did it start?
We met people who were struggling and followed them to their battlefields. They showed us the other side of the projects we could have done as engineers.
I think of Cristiana and Emmanuel, watching the concrete pouring on their land on the plateau of Saclay,
Or to this dry hole, ridiculous compensation for a pond full of salamanders,
And to Nico, who watches from his building tower how the popular gardens from his youth are being razed to the ground for the construction of an eco-neighbourhood.
Here and there we met people who experiment with other ways of living,
reclaiming knowledge and know-how to stop being dependent on the monopoly of polluting industries,
People who understand their territory to live with it without exhausting it,
Who actively combat harmful projects?
Practicing daily a popular, decolonial and feminist ecology,
Who find the time to live well and take care of each other,
All these encounters have inspired us to propose our own paths:
I am preparing a beekeeping installation in the Dauphiné.
I have been living at the ZAD of Notre Dame des Landes for two years now, where I do, among other things, collective and subsistence farming.
I joined the Uprisings of the Earth movement to fight against the grabbing and concreting of farmland across France.
I live in the mountains where I did seasonal work and I’m starting to draw.
I settle in a collective in the Tarn, on a farm of Terres de Liens, with 4 other gardeners, a grain farmer and 3 brewers.
I am against nuclear energy.
I train today to settle down tomorrow and work with my hands.
We are convinced that these ways of living will make us happier, stronger and more fulfilled.
We want to be able to look ourselves in the eye tomorrow and support the gaze of our children.
Afraid of stepping aside because it wouldn’t look good on your resume?
Distance yourself from your family and your network?
To deprive you of the recognition that a career as an agricultural engineer would bring you?
But what life do we want?
A cynical boss, a salary you can fly with, a 30-year loan for a pavilion, just 5 weeks a year to breathe an unusual cottage, an electric SUV, a fairphone and a Biocoop loyalty card?
And then… a burnout at 40?
Let’s not waste our time!
And let’s not let go of this energy that is boiling somewhere inside us!
Let’s give up before we are financially obligated
Let’s not wait for our kids to ask us for money to go shopping in the Metaverse, because we won’t have time to let them dream of anything else.
Don’t expect to be able to do anything but a pseudo-reconversion in the same work, but repainted in green.
Let’s not wait for the IPCC’s 12th report to show that states and multinationals have only made the problems worse and will pin its last hopes on popular uprisings.
You can now fork.
Start the training as a farmer-baker,
After a few months of wwoofing,
Working on a construction site in a ZAD or elsewhere,
Join a weekend of battle with the Earth Uprisings,
Would you like to participate in a participatory cycling workshop?
It can start like this.
It’s up to you to find your own way of branching off.”