The Dutch pesticides authorization board (CTB in Dutch) is still allowing farmers to use damaging pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, according to a black paper published by three Dutch environmental organisations. The board is hiding behind the complexity of Dutch law, they comment. The chairman of the board, WAU professor Jan Koeman of the Department of Toxicology, is not impressed: Since the board was reorganised in 1993, we have decreased the number of pesticides enormously. We already forbid the use of several pesticides they put forward in their black paper. Those people look at us as a bunch of old imbeciles, who accept bribes from the industry. But I fight, where ever I can, for the interests of our environment."
Several Dutch universities are trying to measure the quality of their research by counting the number of publications and citations of their departments in international scientific journals. Citation analyst Ton van Raan from the University of Leiden, who measured the WAU publications in 1993, wants universities to stimulate good researchers and limit expenditures on mediocre scientists. Faculties still think it fair to divide the cake into equal pieces among the departments. Young scientists won't be able to enter academia this way; isn't that a shame?"
The Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Van Aartsen, called for stronger cooperation between the WAU and the agricultural schools for vocational training last week. His colleague, Minister Ritzen for Higher Education, is opposed to Aartsen's idea in his new education plan HOOP. Van Aartsen couldn't have said this, commented a director at the Department of Agriculture. The WAU and vocational schools welcome a special policy on agricultural education.
Scientists of the AB-DLO research institute in Wageningen have published an article in Science, in which they explain why some ecosystems are stable and others not. They created food webs with mites, springtails and nematodes, and came to the conclusion that some interactions between organisms can disturb the web fundamentally, while others are less important for the ecosystem. The scientists describe top-down and bottom-up effects in the food web, which provide stability in an ecosystem. The results will be useful to ecotoxicologists, who can identify the sensitive parts of the ecosystem and predict which species are likely to become extinct.
WAU has had a very attractive homepage on the Internet since September. But behind this facade, a lot of information from the departments is sadly lacking in quality. Congresses which have took place years ago and out-of-date extension information are still on the world wide web. Departments such as Physical and Colloid Chemistry, who present up-to-date information, are making structural investments in the Internet. Other departments are looking for volunteers to update the WWW pages.