Wetenschap - 1 november 2001

English summary

Reactions have been mixed to the recent appointment of directors for the five expertise groups at Wageningen UR, announced last week in Wb.

At Plant Research International the new directors Kropff, Jacobson and Colijn have been greeted with enthusiasm. Dr Cees Grashoff, Plant Research International representative on the advisory council put it this way: 'we looked at the competencies of the candidates not their blood groups.' At Agrotechnology and Food Sciences there is also satisfaction with the appointments. Chair for the ATO advisory council Henri Boerrichter: 'there is nothing wrong with the people. It is a fact though that the whole idea of an expertise group has not really got off the ground. Unbelievably little has happened so far'.

Meanwhile at the Social Sciences expertise group, composed of the university department of Social Sciences and the Agricultural Economics Research Institute LEI, there is doubt about the worth of collaboration between the two groups.

The social scientists in Wageningen are worried that the economics and statistics focus of LEI will be to the loss of the other sociological and philosophical approaches within the university, and they also mention the lack of an international focus within LEI. Among the staff of LEI there is a positive attitude, despite the fact that it is not yet clear what form the collaboration will take, according to advisory council representative Arjan Wolters.

The Institute for Animal Science and Health, ID-Lelystad, is responsible for analyzing suspicious powder found in envelopes, to determine whether or not anthrax is present.

At the moment the number of samples remains less than one hundred per day and no anthrax has been found, which means that ID has enough of its own staff to carry out the laboratory work. If the number of samples increases it will have to employ temporary extra personnel, as it did during the foot-and-mouth outbreak earlier this year. ID would prefer not to have to do this, because of the risk of infection from anthrax. ID is well prepared for crisis situations. During times when there is no outbreak of an infectious disease staff work on their own projects, but immediately switch over to diagnosis and fighting the problem.

Applied Plant Research (PPO) has developed a method for improving the efficiency of tissue culture propagation of plants. This was presented last week by researcher Geert-Jan de Klerk during a study afternoon on Innovation in ornamental plants. Tissue culture has the advantage of being quick and producing disease free plants. A problem however is that ethylene builds up quickly in the tissue culture containers. This aging hormone, which is a gas, slows down the growth of plants. PPO has developed Power Pellets: these contain potassium permanganate, which oxidises ethylene. A small bag placed int he growing container does wonders for apples and roses.

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