Science - February 10, 2011

Extensive book on intensive animal farming

Text:
Astrid Smit

Wageningen UR has published a weighty volume of essays on intensive livestock farming. State secretary Bleker praised Wageningen for its prominent role in the debate.

Society will have to decide what livestock farming should look like in five years' time
Executive board chair Aalt Dijkhuizen and Martin Scholten, director of Animal Sciences, presented secretary of state Henk Bleker with the Wageningen UR essay collection on intensive livestock farming on 8 February. The volume is intended as a contribution to the debates about livestock herds, manure processing, animal welfare and megafarms.
In this weighty tome - almost 300 pages - there are 29 essays by a total of 63 Wageningen researchers. Good to see Wageningen making its presence felt in the discussion around livestock, which is becoming ever more relevant, stated Bleker at the presentation. He wants to launch a public debate on intensive livestock, so he sees the publication as 'perfectly timed'. Martin Scholten: 'Bleker sees a role for Wageningen UR in this debate.'

Discussion material
The essay collection was the brainchild of the taskforce on 'ethical livestock farming' initiated by Scholten last year. 'I wasn't hearing Wageningen UR in the debate on intensive livestock farming, or only with positions for or against.' The essay form makes it possible to express the range of different insights at Wageningen, thinks Scholten. 'This makes it a little easier for the researchers to understand each other's ideas. We are providing discussion material, and after that it is up to other entrepreneurs and social organization to determine what livestock farming should look like in five years' time.'
Bleker had a new research question for Wageningen, concerning the social context of livestock farming. 'He wanted to know what the position of family farms will be in a sector that has to modernize.'
 
For an analysis on the essay check the following article.

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