Wetenschap - 22 maart 2001

English Summary

As the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Britain worsens the Netherlands is also preparing to face the worst, and the consequences are also being felt by Wageningen UR.

ID-Lelystad (Institute for Animal Science and Health) is preparing for an influx of samples to test for the presence of the foot-and-mouth virus. Meanwhile the institute is swamped with calls from the media and a representative reports in at the ministry of agriculture in The Hague on a daily basis. Research work is also beginning to feel the effect of foot-and-mouth restrictions. At Alterra only researchers working in towns and mud flats areas are allowed to conduct field work. At Imag (Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering) the team of seven people who measure ammonia emissions is unable to carry out its work. The protocol for the measurements states that measurements must be made very regularly: a month's gap will render the previous measurements useless.

The Executive Board of Wageningen University has decided that trainee research assistants (AIOs) who have not finished their PhD research and writing within four years may be eligible for a half year extension of funding from the university.

Each case will be considered individually, and the decision will rest with the chair of the sub-department. This now creates an unequal situation between AIOs and research assistants (OIOs). The latter receive funding from NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), for a maximum of three months' extension. Chairman of the Board, Cees Veerman agrees that the situation is not fair, but is not optimistic about the powers of Wageningen UR to influence NWO. A meeting on the new ruling will be held on Monday 26 March at 9.00 in the University Administration Building on the Costerweg.

A recent survey undertaken by the tropical student group Patio indicates that at least half of the first year students in Wageningen would like to work in a developing country.

Figures from KLV (Royal Society for Agricultural Sciences) show however that for last year's graduates only two percent have actually gone on to do this. The study coordinator of Rural Development Studies, Dr Robert Schipper offers a number of explanations. First year students are perhaps still idealistic, and have less idea of the reality: there are fewer and fewer job openings available in developing countries for Dutch graduates, as these countries increasingly have enough experts themselves. When Dutch students do practical work abroad their enthusiasm is often also dampened as they are faced with the realities of developing countries.

Wageningen research has shown that red wine is not the best source of anti-oxidants.

The popular belief that the relatively low rates of coronary and circulatory disease in France are due to the consumption of red wine there has been called into question by Dr Jeanne de Vries of the sub-department of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology. The anti-oxidant in question is quercetin, but according to De Vries the quercetin found in onions is linked to glucose and is taken up in much larger quantities by the human body. However, there are still other substances in red wine which have not yet been fully investigated, resveratrol for instance, a hormone-like substance.

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