Wetenschap - 13 september 2001

English Summary

In the light of the news of the departure of Wageningen UR Chairman Cees Veerman Wb polled opinions on a possible successor.

While rumours abound, opinions vary and many favour a woman for the job. Chair of the Wageningen Student Organisation Nynke Post Uiterweer had this comment: "It would be good if it were a woman, as women seem to be better managers, especially on the personnel side. Veerman's successor must make sure that education and research do not become too commercial." Dr Kees de Hoog, lecturer in Sociology of the Family echoed this: "It would be very good if we had a woman, a wise woman with a good understanding of university culture. The opening of the academic year was a typical macho event as usual, all grey men."

The recently published annual Environmental Balance (Natuurbalans) recommends that the Dutch government needs to pay more attention to integration between national, international and regional policies for nature and the environment.

The report, compiled by the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Alterra, suggests that some of the government initiatives to develop nature are at odds with European guidelines and regional ideas on nature conservation and development. Good news in the report is that the total area of nature in the Netherlands is about 15 percent of the country and is not declining. However, the number of plant and animal species is dropping because the quality of rural areas is not being maintained. See www.rivm.nl for more information.

PhD researcher Jeroen Kiers of the Food Hygiene and Microbiology Group has discovered that the fermented soya product temp? can protect both humans and pigs from diarrhoea.

Proteins in the temp? prevent the bacteria that cause diarrhoea from attaching themselves to the intestine wall. Once E. coli bacteria have gained a foothold they produce a poison which make the intestine walls release water, leading to dehydration particularly in infants. Research in piglets has shown that feeding them temp? can reduce the length of time and severity of the diarrhoea by up to 25 percent.

Farmers are delighted with research results from ID-Lelystad (Institute for Animal Science and Health).

These indicate that cows can become infected with BVD, Bovine Virus Diarrhoea, if they receive a minute amount of the virus in the IBR bovine influenza vaccine. Pharmaceutical giant Bayer had denied that this is possible, and while Bayer had already agreed to compensate farmers who had received infected vaccines, farmers were convinced that even cows that had received only a very small amount were infected. Even cows that do not develop symptoms remain very infectious, and are likely to pass BVD on to their calves. Ironically it was ID-Lelystad that developed the IBR vaccine, but contamination only occurred during production by Bayer.

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