Wetenschap - 24 oktober 2002

English Summary

English Summary

www.gcw.nl/wispr

A new outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease would be dealt with in the same way as the one last year, according to the results of recent research by the Farm Management Group and LEI. See the Wisp'r website for a translation of the article on page 1 of this Wb.

The planned demonstration of university students in The Hague on 12 November has the support not only of the Wageningen Student Organisation (WSO) but also of the university executive board.

Vice Chancellor Bert Speelman has even suggested that the university will pay for the transport to The Hague. The cabinet, which has since fallen, had already introduced plans to cut the budget for higher education by 358 million euros and increase tuition fees. The Dutch government also supports the WTO General Agreement on Trade and Services, another source of concern as it is likely to increase the workings of the free market on education.

One in ten people has a faulty gene which results in 16 percent more chance of them developing heart and circulatory diseases, but Wageningen researchers know what can be done about it.

That there is a relation between the 'heart attack gene', the protein homocystine and cardiac disease has been known for a long time, but all the studies were too small to be conclusive. The Wageningen researchers at the Department of Human nutrition and Epidemiology put the data from all the studies together and set the computer to work. Europeans with the gene do indeed have 16 percent more chance of developing cardiac disease, but the US rates are much lower. According to Dr Petra Verhoef this is because of the high intake of folic acid, through the breakfast cereals to which it is added as a supplement. The next question is how to change European regulations on food supplements.

World expert on malaria mosquitoes Dr Willem Takken of Wageningen University is back from an exotic expedition.

He was asked by the Dutch water board to estimate the density of the Dutch malaria mosquito population in the wilds of Zuid-Holland, as they are about to make substantial changes to the water management system in this Dutch province, and it is known that the Dutch malaria mosquito (Anopheles atroparvus) lives on the surface of clean water. Malaria was relatively common in some parts of the Netherlands until the 1960s, although not usually fatal. Takken's results were reassuring: there are only 5-6000 malaria mosquitoes per square kilometre in this country, not enough to lead to epidemics.

Research institute ATO is to research whether astronauts can use mushrooms to process their own waste on expeditions into deep space. The project is being funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) in preparation for the expedition to Mars, planned for 2025. A trip to Mars lasts too long to take only 'ready to eat' food along, the astronauts will have to grow food for themselves on the way. The biggest problem is breaking down all the fibres, from toilet paper, human and other organic waste, and that's where the mushrooms come in. ATO researchers will collaborate with Dutch technology concern Stork in a comparative study of three different methods for processing waste: oyster mushrooms, enzymes or a physico-chemical process. Apparently the mushrooms are the hot favourite.

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