Dutch farmers are increasingly opposing the tough government regulations introduced to limit the manure surplus. Too much manure causes increased soil acidity, says the government, but farmer activists claim that the government has no proof of this. The calculations of mineral excess are too high and are used to erode the position of farmers on sandy soils, says farmer activist Wien van den Brink, in Wageningen this week to discuss the problem of the manure surplus. Sociologist Jaap Frouws, author of the book Manure and Power, suggested that the government is in fact delaying action on addressing the Dutch manure problem.
A new field of science is developing at the WAU: molecular ecology. Ecologists are beginning to use the toolbag of molecular scientists more and more, as it provides a more profound explanation of the development of species. Species are dynamic systems," says coordinator Cees Bos of the Biology programme. Species have a common gene pool, which will be expressed in different forms, dependent on the circumstances under which they live." Molecular analyses can also trace bacteria which cannot be cultivated by ecologists, providing a better understanding of population composition, says microbiologist Antoon Akkermans. A workshop on this subject was held in Wageningen on November 22nd.
You may have noticed that St Nicholas arrived in Wageningen last Saturday. The rich and generous bishop from Spain, already more than a thousand years old, will celebrate his birthday on December 5th, when he distributes presents and makes known the good and bad deeds of everyone over the past year. In the meantime, he stimulates the local economy by buying the things in demand among the Dutch population - the guy is omniscient. The St Nicholas that we interviewed, knows all the shopkeepers in Wageningen, who secretly sponsor the Spanish bishop.
Last week in Wageningen three environmental economists discussed the question of whether economic growth is good or bad for the environment. Professors Hans Opschoor (Amsterdam) and Ecco van Ierland (Wageningen) argued that economic growth limits natural resources, but WAU scientist Wim Heijman proposed that economic growth also has a number of positive effects on the environment: a decrease in population growth, extra investment in services focused on environmental problems, and money for research to explore alternative resources. The participants concluded that the nature of economic growth must be examined in order to be able to explain the consequences for the environment.