The committee on branding policy is divided in two camps. There are those, like the Animal expertise group, who are happy to place the expertise group at the centre of communication, emphasising the unity between research institutes and the university. The other camp, such as Environment, wants to maintain the names used at the moment: Wageningen University, Alterra, LEI and Plant Research International. Bert Jansen, head of communication for Environment, explained that two very different organisations work within Environment; they do not have the same objectives and they did not ask to be merged. The decision on names and branding will be left to the Executive Board. Chairman Aalt Dijkhuizen wants clarity on the fact that the different groups belong together within Wageningen UR, and that this is made clear to the outside world.
Students gathered signatures last Monday in the three biggest canteens for a petition requesting the university to provide organic food.
The universities of Nijmegen and Utrecht have already agreed to do so, but Wageningen refuses. The petition requests that the executive board agrees that by 2004 the canteens will ensure that 5% of the products they sell are organic. Spokesman for Wageningen UR Simon Vink explained the reaction of Wageningen UR: "We are not against the petition, but we do not see the need to sign an agreement on the matter." According to Vink there is no conclusive evidence that organic products are better for environmental sustainability or human health, and that is why the board refrained from signing the petition.
Organic food or not, eating food is no longer just a question of consuming a product, it is increasingly about consuming values and ideas.
Dr Hans Dagevos of LEI recently published a study of the dilemmas facing the food industry. Food has changed from a 'real good' to a 'feel good'. Two tendencies come to light in his report, entitled Panorama voedingsland. The public demands more transparency and information on the entire production chain, leading to a future scenario of monitors in supermarkets on which consumers can trace their purchases in the chain from the moment the beef they are buying was still grazing in the field, through its slaughter to arrival on the shelf. But too much information will interfere with the need to feel good when consuming a product that is perceived to be healthy. "We don't want to know everything," says Dagevos.
Holland is getting wetter. Meteorology student Andy Bruin analyzed rainfall data for the Netherlands in the 20th century.
It appears that the almost tropical summer downpours have become more frequent, as have prolonged winter showers. There was on average a six percent increase in precipitation each decade. According to climatologists this is due to global warming and changes in wind patterns. It seems that west-east circulation is on the increase.