WAU's Department of Physical Planning and Rural Development is struggling with its scientific profile and the implementation of major cutbacks. The rural planners in the department, who are no longer represented by a professor, are worried that their section will come off worst in relation to agricultural engineering and landscape architecture. Five graduates from the planning section have already left, while other young scientists fear that the proposed reorganisation of the department, in order to meet new goals, will be thwarted by the old guard in the department.
The world population is expected to reach eight billion people by 2020; 93 percent of that growth will be in developing countries. The world has the carrying capacity to feed all these people, says Dr P. Pinstrup-Andersen from the International Food Policy Research Institute, presenting the 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture and the Environment. The international community has to strengthen the capacity of developing-country governments, strengthen agricultural research in and for developing countries, promote sustainable agricultural intensification and sound management of natural resources and develop efficient, low-cost agricultural input and output markets. The vision is based on forty research projects. WAU professor Rudy Rabbinge, who wrote a report on Sustained Risks; a Lasting Phenomenon, was one of the contributors.
The Dutch market gardeners produce lettuce during the winter months in their greenhouses. Lack of sunlight is responsible for high levels of nitrate in the lettuce. Too high, says German legislation since the beginning of this month. Growers cannot lower the amount of nitrate in the lettuces, which means they will loose an important export market and about four hundred companies are expected to go bankrupt. However, there is no scientific evidence that high amounts of nitrate in lettuce cause cancer in humans, says WAU professor Jan Koeman.
WAU wants modular education, in which courses are concentrated into periods of a few weeks, after which students can immediately take an examination. This approach, which will spread out the exam period, should improve the students' results. However, the first results since the introduction of modules in the Biology programme show no evidence of improvement. The students are satisfied though. You can delve deeper into the subject," says one student.