There are busy times ahead for Wageningen researchers. After the pigs with their swine flu, the cows with their mad cow disease, the chickens with their bird flu, the sheep with their bluetongue disease and the goats with their Q fever, it now seems to be horticulture's turn.
Who would have thought it? In livestock farming, with its complex feed chains and continuous transportation of animals, feed and manure, such things may be expected, but in the world of fruit and vegetables? Anyway, animals can fall ill, but cucumbers, lettuces, tomatoes? You stick a seed in the ground, give it some water and a bit of nitrogen, potassium and phosphate, and you get the result you wanted, don't you?
In an initial response last week, Secretary of State Bleker said he would be going to the EU with a demand for compensation for the affected businesses, and as a gesture he has already offered 10 million euros from his own budget.
Ten million euros. Where does Bleker get it from? He's the secretary of state who never has enough. Who is cutting hundreds of millions of euros from the nature budget. Well, he could get some funds from there, I suppose. Who could object to that, and it does make a sort of sense, does it not? A field of cucumbers counts as nature. Bleker must see it that way, anyway.