Organisation - January 30, 2014

Framing Fresco

Albert Sikkema

The national press does not expect change of course in Wageningen UR after Louise Fresco’s appointment.

Just like Aalt Dijkhuizen, Louise Fresco is a firm believer in modern, highly productive, industrialized agriculture. Also, like Dijkhuizen, she has strong ties with the agro-industrial complex. This is the line taken by national newspaper de Volkskrant journalist Mac van Dinther on the appointment of Fresco as chair of Wageningen UR’s executive board. The pigeonholing of Fresco has already begun, before she has said a word as board chair. In Van Dinther’s view, Wageningen Agricultural University (sic!) is opting for continuity.

Van Dinther’s colleague at Trouw newspaper, Kees de Vré, likewise portrays Fresco as an advocate of more intensification and upscaling. Fresco is more subtle than Dijkhuizen but in the end she sides with industrial agriculture, thinks De Vré. Both journalists find their angle in the assumed opposition between an outspoken urban elite and industrial-minded Wageningen. It makes this dichotomy trickier that, in De Vré’s eyes, Fresco displays great cultural erudition, using paintings as a starting point for discussion diet in her books and publications. Nonetheless, he says, just like Dijkhuizen, she is a ‘true child of Wageningen,’ – with Wageningen standing here for ‘lots of technology’ and ‘even more intensification and large scale.’

But not everybody already has fixed expectations of the line Fresco will take as chair of Wageningen’s board. Maybe we should ‘give her a chance to show what she’s going to do and reserve judgement until then,’ suggests Dick Veerman on Foodlog.