Pig vaccination is no longer taboo in the European Union, after the Dutch government had to destroy nine million pigs to prevent the spread of swine fever last year. Two companies have developed vaccines to prevent pigs contracting this disease and they want to test it in the field. At the moment vaccination of pigs is still forbidden, because tests cannot distinguish between whether a pig has got the fever or the vaccine. Export of vaccinated pigs is not allowed because other countries are not prepared to run the risk of importing pigs with fever. Countries which vaccinate have something to explain to others about the quality of the vaccine and the tests, states Dr Aalt Dijkhuizen, member of the Scientific Veterinary Committee of the European Union and professor at the WAU. For this reason, a country like Denmark is still against vaccination of pigs in Europe, fearing that their trade partners will buy the pigs outside Europe. Dutch authorities want to use the vaccine when an epidemic threatens to erupt. The destruction of the pigs last year cost the Dutch government five billion guilders, while vaccination would have cost only 35 million guilders
The fragmented research in Wageningen on rural development, ecology and landscape planning should be concentrated into a multidisciplinary centre that can tackle the broad and complex demands of redesigning the Dutch countryside. This proposal comes from a committee composed of directors of DLO institutes and WAU professors in this field. They want a delta team of forty beta, gamma and alpha researchers who would formulate new paradigms and a graduate school on ountryside. The proposal costs about twenty million guilders. One important aim of the delta team should be to start investigating the interaction between cities and countryside in the Netherlands, as green space becomes more and more urbanised. Scientists from other universities welcome the plan, but point out that concentrating scientists is only useful if they have common goals and strategies
American biologist Richard Primack, who gave a speech at a symposium in Wageningen, has a controversial plan to save African mountain gorillas from extinction. He wants to transfer part of the gorilla population to a nature reserve in Costa Rica, where they will not be hunted. WAU animal ecologist Sip van Wieren isn't convinced that transportation of threatened animal species to a sanctuary will work. The gorillas may have to compete with other monkeys for the available food and lots of mammals have difficulties reproducing in a strange environment. Primack responds that the introduction of Mexican wolves into the United States has been successful and thinks that one species can become a symbol to protect a complete ecosystem. The introduction of threatened wild animals is an important positive message to the world
WAU students Francine Engelsman and Ate Oosterhof have modelled the ground water current in an Irish moor, Clara Bog. The students propose building a dam to raise the ground water level and stop the moor from drying up. The Irish National Park and Wildlife Service agrees with the conclusion of the students, but the population won't be amused, fears Oosterhof. If the dam is built, the road through the lake will go under water and the population needs this road to dig peat. This is not allowed anymore, but all the pubs use peat for heating in this area.