Wetenschap - 12 maart 1998

English Summary

English Summary

English Summary
  • Sociologist Dr Jan Douwe van der Ploeg gave the keynote speech at the 80th anniversary celebration of the WAU. He talked about the unfinished past and future of land reforms in the world. Many land reforms in the past have not been finished, argued Van der Ploeg, because the policy makers concentrated on increasing the farms in a region to the level of the economic holding they had calculated and did not take institutional and market conditions into account at all. The economic holding in Egypt in the 1950s was calculated at 44 percent above the actual average farm at that time, in the beginning of the 1960s the economic holding was 166 percent above the average Tunisian farm and in the 1970s the economic holding was 400 percent bigger that the average farm in Peru. As a result, land reforms have led to the marginalisation of large parts of the rural population. Van der Ploeg is in favour of the current land reform in South Africa, which is not state-driven, but state-supported. He quotes with permission from South African agriculture minister Derek Hanekom, who stated: There is not a fixed unit of land, it all depends on what you do with it
  • American molecular biologist Dr Chris Sommerville received an honorary doctorate from the WAU at the anniversary meeting. Sommerville was one of the few biologists in the 1980s who unravelled the DNA of the plant arabidopsis, an unassuming little plant. This was used as a model to understand fundamental processes in plants. He now is one of the leaders of an international group of three thousand scientists doing research on arabidopsis. Of prime importance for Sommerville is the open exchange of knowledge between the research groups. The older people in our field strongly believe in the spirit of open communication. Scientific findings are not patented, but immediately published on the Internet
  • The University also presented an honorary doctorate to American ecologist Dr Gene Likens. He conducted path breaking research in the field of acid rain with his Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study in the 1970s. Likens strongly advocates integrated approach to ecosystem research, especially where ecosystems with people are involved. Most of the ecologists like to go to remote areas to study a forest or lake, where human beings haven't made a mess of it yet. But in order to understand the earth, we really have to study ecosystems with people in them, because the effects of humans on the environment are very clear worldwide. At the moment he is studying the city of Baltimore as an ecosystem
  • The Executive Board of the Knowledge Centre Wageningen (KCW), the merger of the WAU and DLO institutes for agricultural research, has presented a new version of its strategic plan. The fundamental and applied researchers in Wageningen should be concentrated in five big units. The Board wants the KCW to play a leading role in plans and research to improve the world food situation. The University should increase its tariffs to cover all the costs and should compete with other universities abroad by offering better quality, the Board argues

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