Wetenschap - 21 juni 2001

English Summary

The ceremony whereby the IAC and ILRI officially became part of Wageningen UR was held on Thursday 14 June, the eve of the 50th anniversary of the IAC.

Wageningen UR now consists of university, institutes, applied research and the newest part, which offers short course education. In his speech, chairman of the board Cees Veerman confirmed that this was not the time to rest on laurels, but to make the most of the current situation in which society demands answers that are based on science. Wageningen has much to offer.

The tale of the mouse arm continues...the Executive Board of Wageningen UR is to invest 1.9 million guilders immediately in ergonomic improvements to computer rooms.

A recent study by the Occupational Health and Safety Service showed that over eighty percent of the work places of employees in the university are not suitably equipped, while in the research institutes the figure is about forty percent. A total of 4.5 million guilders is estimated to be needed to make all changes necessary, and the departments themselves are also going to have to finance some of this. New equipment in the form of chairs and desks of adjustable height is required, but investments also need to be made in prevention: posture, behaviour and stress management.

It is estimated that golden rice, the brainchild of the bio-industry, will be available to farmers in developing countries within five to seven years.

Research institutes in the Philippines and India are already crossing genetically modified rice with common local rice varieties, so that these will also contain vitamin A. Technical problems seem to be surmountable, or have already been solved. On the social side however there are still obstacles to be overcome in the eyes of Wageningen researchers Bert Visser, of Plant Research International and Dr Paul Hebinck of Rural Development Sociology, if the new crop is to become widely accepted.

Placing bamboo sticks in the bottom of fish ponds can lead to spectacular increases in production according to Dr Marc Verdegem and Dr Anne van Dam of the Fish Culture and Fisheries Group at Wageningen University.

Working together with researchers in Scotland, Bangladesh and India they performed experiments to determine which materials formed the best substrate for the development of algae, bacteria and plankton upon which fish, in this case carp, feed. Out of the various candidates bamboo sticks were found to be the best.

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