One-third of Dutch pig farmers have chronic respiratory symptoms. These health problems are caused by disinfectants and endotoxins (residues of pathogenic bacteria), concludes Liesbeth Preller in her PhD thesis. Disinfectants with quaternary ammonium compounds can cause sensitisation to allergens, while endotoxins from dung and fodder combine with dust and affect the bronchi. Changing disinfection procedures, and the use of personal protective equipment together with improvement of conditions in the sty will reduce the health hazards, says supervisor Tielen.
Dr Colja Laane was recently appointed as WAU's new professor in Biochemistry, succeeding his tutor Cees Veeger. Coming from Unilever Research, Laane wants to bridge the gap between fundamental and applied research. Biochemistry has a lot to offer food science. This should lead to additional funding." Biochemistry is one of the top international research institutes, because of the work being done on the study of redox enzymes. This provides a valuable contribution to applied ecotoxicological research and understanding physiological aspects of plants. However, Laane also wants a research programme on these enzymes directed to the food processing industry.
The institutes for international agricultural research used to be divided according to field of specialisation: IRRI improved rice production, CYMMIT in Mexico improved wheat. Three years ago chairman of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Ismael Serageldin, pronounced a firm change. The institutes should cooperate in regional programmes for integrated development. The director-general of the potato institute CIP, Dr H. Zandstra, was at the IAC to explain a new initiative in this direction: a 1.8 million dollar research programme on sustainable agricultural development in the Andean mountain area. One of the participants is production-ecologist G.H.J. de Koning who is trying to refine the agro-ecological characterisation of this area.
Despite a long-term campaign on the dangers to health of fatty food, the level of cholesterol in the blood of Dutch consumers is still too high, concludes PhD graduate W.M.M. Verschuren. However, the information campaign doesn't need to change. Stick to the general message, says Verschuren: Eat less fat."