Wetenschap - 17 mei 2001

English Summary

The executive board of Wageningen UR has appointed a task force entitled Reshaping Agriculture for the 21st Century.

The nine-strong group will come up with ideas and scenarios for Dutch agriculture in the coming century, as the Wageningen contribution to the national discussion on the future of agriculture. They will spend the coming months working on their report which will be ready at the beginning of September. The group is headed by Wijnie van Eck (Alterra) and includes Dr Corrie van der Weele (LEI), Dr Simon Oosting (Animal Production Systems Group), Dr Gerwin Meijer (ID-Lelystad), Annoesjka Wintjes (Alterra), Ben Klein Swormink (student), Marian Stuiver (Rural Sociology Group), Seth Tromp (ATO) and Bert Jansen (Alterra).

It seems likely that the professional training institute Hogeschool Diedenoort will leave Wageningen after 2003.

This will have considerable impact on a number of student organisations in Wageningen. The Introductory Week held in August each year is well attended by new Diedenoort students, who last year accounted for nearly a quarter of all the visitors. Their departure is likely to have budget implications for the organising committee. The SSHW accommodation office will also lose tenants, and is therefore considering targeting new types of tenant as student numbers as a whole have been showing a downward trend in recent years. Of the student organisations and sports clubs, Ceres has the most members from Diedenoort.

Researchers at the Laboratory for Organic Chemistry have developed a machine that can scan herbs for the presence of anti-oxidants in a few seconds.

The electric Panoramix has two parts, the first of which separates and counts the components in a herb extract using a high-pressure fluid chromatograph. In the second part all the separated substances are exposed individually to a free radical that changes colour when it comes in contact with an anti-oxidant. The second step is important when it comes to identifying compounds in plants that may be dangerous to humans. Both the food industry and the cosmetic industry are interested in the substances this electric druid can trace.

Visiting Wageningen this week for a PhD graduation Professor Paolo de Castro, agricultural advisor to European Commission President Romano Prodi,

declared that Europe will no longer be able to compete at the global level with mass products such as sugar or milk, but will have to focus on regional products with a story attached to them. Dr Flaminia Ventura received her PhD on 11 May for research she performed on traditional production of beef in Umbria, concluding that it is efficient and environmentally friendly. De Castro placed his ideas in the context of WTO negotiations, which are heading towards scrapping direct subsidies for farmers by 2004, and EU expansion to include eastern European countries, which will also mean a decline in subsidies.

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