Wetenschap - 6 november 1997

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • Dutch universities should be more aware of the importance of patents to protect their scientific findings. Universities in the United States are much keener on obtaining patents: Stanford University, for instance, has a patent portfolio worth forty million dollars a year. The university in Groningen started to invest in obtaining patents three years ago, but the costs (one million guilders) have so far outscored the benefits (fifty thousand) by a long way. The main problem lies with the application of the findings. The wider the application, the better the chance that companies will buy the patents and pay royalties to the universities. WAU has earned five million guilders by selling patents. Payment usually takes the form of new research funds
  • How will we clean our waste water in future? Do we need high-tech sewage treatment plants or can low-tech, small systems for each village or hospital do the job? Environmental scientist Dr Gatze Lettinga is strongly in favour of small on site systems. At present western countries waste a lot of clean water washing effluent out of sewage. But his small-scale alternative is quite costly and not yet very efficient, his fellow scientists argued in a discussion among graduates. They argued for holding on to the large-scale plants which can gradually be adapted to comply with environmental regulations. Lettinga wants to design a radically new system which would be in place by the year 2040
  • Indonesia should become the springboard for students from Southeast Asia who want to study in the Netherlands, Dutch Minister of Education Ritzen and his Indonesian colleague Wardiman agreed. At the moment only 450 students from Indonesia are studying here, since the deterioration in relations when the Minister for International Cooperation, Jan Pronk, questioned the human rights situation in the former colony in 1992. But Ritzen is now proposing extra grants for talented Indonesians to study in Holland. At the same time Wardiman complimented the quality of education in Holland, based on his own experience here. Ritzen has now set up the Netherlands Education Centre in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, to recruit well-off students who don't need a grant. The Netherlands should become a good alternative for studying in the US and England
  • Should organic farmers make use of the fruits of biotechnology for disease control of their crops and cattle? A discussion between biotechnologists and organic organisations in Wageningen did not come up with a clear answer. The organic groups prefer traditional methods of crop breeding and won't accept transgenetic crops. The consumers' belief that organic products are quite different from regular ones seems to be more important than incorporating new techniques in the production cycle

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