´Now we have been abandoned to the enemy', sighed nature researcher Victor Westhoff many years ago when it was made known that nature would be transfered from the ministry of Culture, Recreation and Social Work to the ministry of Agriculture. I saw how resignation, alarm and fury struggled for the upper hand. His shoulders drooped, his lips trembled and his eyes flashed fire.
Over the years, the ministry has changed its name twice, ending up with 'agriculture, nature and food quality'. Three themes that coincide beautifully with the three core tasks that Wageningen UR stands for. De Volkskrant of two weeks ago carried a report that 'our' ministry is going to have to disappear as part of the announced cuts in government spending, and that it will be merged with Economic Affairs. In the same article we are told that minister Verburg has not abandoned all hope and that she is fighting her corner. My thoughts go to Jac. P. Thijsse, who fought to the last well over 100 years ago to keep the Naardermeer. These 'useless, infertile ponds' were to be sold off for use as garbage tips. 'I will not give up until the first truckload of garbage is dumped in the swamp', Thijsse told friends and managers who had long given up the struggle. I hope Verburg is made of similar stuff.
I look in the mirror and see that my shoulders are drooping, my lips are trembling and my eyes are flashing fire. My strongest feeling is one of alarm.