Wetenschap - 25 april 2002

English summary

In a recently published report for the Dutch government, the advisory Council for the Rural Areas concludes that Wageningen UR has reacted too little and too late to social changes.

Wageningen UR concentrated for too long on intensive, large-scale agriculture, while society now demands more contribution to quality of life aspects, such as food safety, animal welfare, ecology and landscape. This requires more emphasis on social sciences combined with the exact sciences in Wageningen. The report also suggests that by becoming more socially relevant and committed in its research Wageningen UR might be able to turn the tide of decreasing student enrolments. (See articles on pages 1, 10 and 11, especially in the light of the forthcoming national election.)

Dutch students in Wageningen seem to prefer the comforts of the student apartments on the edge of town to a room in one of the student houses in the centre of town.

Whereas it used to be almost impossible to rent a room in the student houses in the Nieuwstraat, Hoogstraat and Junusstraat, it can now take months to find new occupant, despite the fact that the rooms are often spacious and cheaper than an SSHW room. Declining student numbers and more pressure on completing studies in a shorter time are seen as reasons why more students just stay on in the accommodation they are assigned on arrival here. Living in a student house on the other hand can give more feeling of belonging to a group, and when you step outside you are right in town rather than in a car park.

Holland lacks space and is slowly becoming built up, but multiple use of space is one way to soften the suffering according to Peter Claeys of the architectural practice Mecanoo.

Claeys was present at a meeting on Space for Green during the Wageningen Kennisdagen last week and cited the new library at the Technical University of Delft as a good example. The long building has a gently sloping roof which is covered in grass. Students can picnic here in the summer, and skiers have already been sighted during the winter. Mecanoo has now developed a plan together with Alterra for redevelopment of one of the polders in the west of the Netherlands. Space for greenhouses is difficult to come by in this highly urbanised area, where demand for housing and business accommodation is high. Claeys believes the two can be combined, for example by building garages or sports halls underneath greenhouses, and houses in-between.

Dairy products containing health-promoting bacteria are even better than previous tests have shown, according to PhD research carried out by Christine Bunthof in the Food Hygiene and Microbiology Group.

Bunthof developed a test which measures the amount of health-promoting bacteria more accurately, using a flow cytometer. Using the new method, the yoghurt drink Yakult contains three times as much living bacteria than previous tests have shown. Bunthof thinks that her method is interesting for dairy research laboratories, not only for research on health-promoting bacteria, but also for research on production processes in which bacteria play a role. In addition, the new technique delivers results quickly, results are available within an hour.

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