Wetenschap - 15 mei 1997

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • One consequence of the swine fever epidemic in the Netherlands is a rapid increase in the price of pork. Farmers outside the contaminated area in the province of Brabant can also make a lot of money at the moment on the Dutch futures market for pork. The futures market is designed to reduce price risks on the market, but is also useful in market situations where there is a temporary supply scarcity, as is the case with the swine fever epidemic. Farmers can also make a quick profit or a perfect hedge for the future. Dutch farmers do not make much use of the futures market, unlike their counterparts in the United States
  • Epidemiologists are bad time-watchers, says Dr Pieter van ,t Veer. But in order to study the relationship between food and health, it is important to know at what age a change in diet will produce the best results. If everybody starts to eat four hundred grams of fruit a day, the number of consumers who will contract cardiovascular diseases will probably decrease immediately. Only later will the number of consumers with bowel cancer decrease, and it may take thirty years before the number of women with breast cancer goes down. Nevertheless, the effects of changes in food eating patterns over time on human health are difficult to examine
  • Future students want interactive courses, says director Hans Tramper of the WAU Technology and Food Institute. The classical lecture will disappear for a great deal, the students will work in small groups. Our building has to be re-equipped so that students can interact much more with each other and their teachers. In additions, our knowledge should be better available through the new information technology. The institute is to invest 800.000 guilders in designing a modular system, so that students with different educational backgrounds and graduates who want to refresh their knowledge, can obtain their grades or theses more easily
  • The working group on Technology and Agrarian Development (TAD) wants to redesign technology so that it can strengthen the position of farmers in developed and underdeveloped countries. Professor Paul Richards and researcher Guido Ruivenkamp, both social scientists, want to cooperate closely with the technical departments within the WAU. The Executive Board is planning on converting Richards' temporary chair to a permanent one, but he has said that he will only stay at the WAU if cooperation between social and technical scientists is established
  • The introduction of food products produced by genetic manipulation, such as transgenetic soya, is not such a problem in the Netherlands as in some other European countries. However there remains the threat of a consumer boycott according to Professor Cees van Woerkum from the Department of Extension Science. A discussion on the safety of the new products is difficult, because consumers are hardly in a position to compare this with the safety and production methods of traditional food sorts. A lot of people would probably be frightened if they took a close look at the food processing industry, because it differs sharply from the image of these products in advertisements

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