Baculo viruses are a useful means for biological pest control. The viruses penetrade insects or caterpillars and multiply in their bowels, leaving a slimy dead insect. Virologist Dr Just Vlak of WAU wants to hasten the effect of the baculo viruses, because it currently takes three to five days before the insects are eliminated. A promising technique is to transfer DNA from scorpions into the viruses, which would paralyse the insects. Genetic modification will be a breakthrough for large commercial exploitation of the viruses, so that chemical pest control can be decreased, thinks Vlak. His colleague, Dr Kees de Gooijer, who is busy upscaling the production of the viruses in vessels, disagrees. Genetically modified viruses aren't accepted in Europe and are therefore hard to market.
WAU has collaborated with the agrarian faculty of the state university of Benin for seventeen years. Anthropologist Dr Jan den Ouden was a leading participant and received a high Beninese decoration last year. The collaboration started with the exchange of anthropologists and food scientists, but was extended in recent years to the building of a library and computer facilities. The Beninese counterparts were able to uplift their three-year BSc course to a promising five-year MSc programme. Dutch funding for the collaboration stopped in 1998 because the university of Benin was not able to produce a strategic plan a few years ago. Quite impossible, explains Den Ouden, because everyone in Benin was on strike at that time