Decontaminate the soil with plants

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Explore the interviews of researchers, photographers, travelers witnessing a world that is changing under the yoke of global warming.
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[EN VIDÉO] The dangers of soil pollution
Philippe Hubert, specialist in soil pollution, discusses the origins but also the possible solutions to be put in place to deal with this scourge that concerns us all. © Futura-Sciences

It only took humans 200 years of industrialization to undermine the hundreds of centuries that the soil took to develop its incredible richness. To clean them up, Biomede is fighting for a biological method rather than physico-chemical treatments or excavation, as Ludovic Vincent, co-founder of the company, enthusiastically explains.

Futura: Can you explain your concept to my grandmother?

Ludovic Vincent: Biomede offers some phytoremediationthat is to say, to depollute the soil by plants, which in particular absorb all the metals heavy. These so-called phytoextractive plants are hyperaccumulators and feed on toxic elements to protect themselves, but also to successfully grow in sterile areas.

What is your solution?

Ludovic Vincent: Our expertise gate on the depollution by the plants of the metals in the agricultural soils and urban. For this, we carry out a whole research work upstream botanicals, in particular in the Roland Bonaparte collection, which contains several million specimens, some of which unfortunately have disappeared… This makes it possible to understand which plant captures which element and in what quantity, but also to be able to cross them to improve its capacities. We are also carrying out experiments in calaminous zones, therefore polluted with heavy metals. When we are called upon, we carry out a detailed analysis of the soil to plant the most effective plants. After a certain period, sometimes as long as 10 years, we recover them and for some, try to give them a second life, especially for those that contain copper which can be used for the cosmetic industries for example. Farmers, who therefore necessarily have a strong relationship with the soil, finally have a depollution solution.

Cultivation greenhouses.  © Biomede

Why will your start-up change the world?

Ludovic Vincent: A study published by Public Health France in 2021 showed that the French population – adults but also children – is contaminated by heavy metals. A serious observation given their harmful effects on health (carcinogenicity, bone, kidney, cardiovascular, neurotoxic effects, etc.). Our challenge is therefore to think about global health, namely of the environment as well as of individuals, because everything is linked. All of these pollutants represent potential hazards to ecosystemstheir biodiversity and the humans who live there, because the heavy metals contained in the soil can end up in the food chain. Especially since the fertile land, which represents only 2% of the earth’s surface, is for the most part contaminated. We talk a lot about theair and water, but not enough soils which are nevertheless incredibly rich ecosystems, which have taken millennia to form and which really need to be known, preserved and cared for.

How was the project born ?

Ludovic Vincent: I have a trainingagronomist. The desire to create a phytoremediation initiative came to me following the request of a farmer who had to abandon his plot because of too high a rate of heavy metals in his soil. I then teamed up with Patricia Gifu, a researcher in oncologywith whom we had a synergy obvious between health and the environment. We have succeeded in validating trials in a culture chamber with few resources at the start. Several prizes have nevertheless allowed us to initiate development, to then create the company, forge partnerships and be certified by the AgroParisTech foundation. Since then, we have developed a clientele in more than twenty classified appellations in Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chablis, Champagne, Cognac, Côtes-du-Rhône. Biomede is also labeled Frenchtech seeds BPI.

Ludovic Vincent, co-founder of Biomede.  © Biomede

What are the next steps ?

Ludovic Vincent: After a first fundraising of 740,000 euros, we are launching a second of 2 million euros to develop the clientele, open up internationally and above all strengthen our R&D (Research & Development) to identify and select new new biological solutions for soils.

What will the world look like in 2050?

Ludovic Vincent: When you start, you have to be positive. But we are in a dramatic situation and above all faced with a inertia such that it will be complicated. Science will not save humanity from itself if it continues on this path. It has allowed many things but can do nothing against a world that often seeks only to self-destruct. The 10% of people who try will not be enough to change things in the face of the 90% who continue to destroy the planet, through inertia, lack of knowledge or by preferring to look elsewhere, without understanding that all ecosystems are connected, that they as much a part of us as we are a part of them.

If you were Prime Minister, what flagship measure would you put in place?

Ludovic Vincent: I don’t think we have to wait for laws or government measures to act. Our strength must above all be collaborative. I strongly believe in citizen science like Biomede does, but also in all those virtuous initiatives that create energy collective. You have to be informed, there are many means for that and in particular Futura which makes it possible to raise the awareness of as many people as possible about essential subjects such as the planet and health.

By the way, which topic of Futura fascinated you?

Ludovic Vincent: I enjoy a lot of subjects but to stay in our connection with nature, I invite readers to discover This article from Futura. Human beings need nature. We are an assembly, a fraction and a function of it. The latest study of Boston University School of Public Health shows it again, so let’s preserve it, for her but also, a little for us…

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