The Ministry of Agriculture plans to make its DLO budget open to competition for other research institutes.
The plan is to go over gradually to a situation where all the money available no longer goes automatically to DLO. A total of 100 million guilders will become available at the end of this year as a result of completion of 4-year projects. The ministry wants to earmark 20 million guilders of this amount for 'open programming' on two themes: Multifunctionality of green and blue space, and Food quality and consumer behaviour. Alterra is likely to be most affected by the changes.
Four distinguished professors will be inaugurated during this year's University anniversary celebrations in March.
Louise Fresco (FAO), Per Pinstrup-Andersen (IFPRI), Ismail Seralgeldin (World Bank) and Patrick Morley (KPN) will become ambassadors for Wageningen. They will visit Wageningen twice a year to advise Wageningen UR and give lectures. During their visit for the anniversary on 9 March they will also give lectures to students.
A brief survey of the information and discussion available on biotechnology issues reveals that the level is not always high or even that entertaining.
Among the English language sites the supporters of biotechnology are, not surprisingly, American commercially backed institutes: the Council for Biotechnology Information (www.whybiotech.com), the Alliance for Better Foods (www.betterfoods.org) and the Monsanto sponsored Biotech Knowledge Center (www.biotechknowledge.com). The American Department of State has Fact Sheets (usinfo.state.gov/topical/global/biotech), and the EU has its Biotechnology Programme on the web (www.europa.eu.int/comm/research/biotl.html). The more in-depth information is not particularly public-friendly on the scientific sites such as the BioTech Resources Web Project (biotech.icmb.utexas.edu) or even the discussion forum of the FAO (www.fao.org/biotech/forum/htm).
Representatives from British-American Tobacco (BAT) recently visited the Wageningen researchers in the Sub-department of Environmental Technology who developed a new cigarette filter.
If they can show that the filter does not reduce the satisfaction derived from smoking too much, they will be welcome at the research centre of BAT in Southampton, England. The new network polymer filter reduces the amount of cancer causing particles inhaled by smokers, but does not remove the carbon monoxide from smoke. This means that a combination filter needs to be developed. According to epidemiologists in Maastricht, the introduction of a Wageningen filter would reduce the number of people who die from smoking by thousands each year. The anti-smoking lobby called the research 'unethical'.