Wetenschap - 15 maart 2011

Wageningen: Zembla drags our name through mud

Television programme Zembla has wrongfully brought Wageningen UR's researchers into discredit, says Simon Vink, spokesperson for Wageningen UR.

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Foto: .

I take this very seriously and it's entirely unjustified. It seems as if Zembla began with a preconceived notion when it got involved in this matter', Vink says angrily, in response to the Zembla broadcast last Saturday evening on the global bee mortality. According to Zembla, Wageningen's ties with chemical giants such as Bayer and BASF have prevented it from being objective in its evaluation of the role of pesticides in bee mortality.
'Nonsense'
Vink describes this as 'nonsense'. 'This is a very nasty attack. Clearly, no objective attempt has been made to examine what is actually happening. The bee mortality issue is a cause for concern. In the scientific debate about the causes of this mortality, the majority of scientists share the view that the Varroa mite is the primary suspect. But opposers to this view pin the cause on pesticide use and condemns anyone who says otherwise.'
Zembla has dragged Wageningen UR's name 'through the mud' by suggesting that it lets its research activities be influenced by the business sector. Zembla drummed up evidence of the close ties with industrial companies by featuring an investigation conducted by Profundo which listed all the projects Wageningen UR has carried out with third parties such as BASF and Bayer. Commenting on this, Vink says: 'There isn't a single shred of evidence; just insinuations. Those can't hold water either because the accusation is wrong.'
Trench warfare
Wageningen UR does not deny having ties in one way or another with BASF, Bayer or other companies. Vink: 'We have ties but our research results are not influenced by these. These results must speak for themselves. We have always been very clear about this. It's just not right to say that we do research into certain insecticides or not because of these ties. For some reason, we were pushed into a corner where every crucial and painstaking attempt at discussion was run down. Zembla turns it into a sort of trench warfare. We should discuss this factually.'
European project
Wageningen's bee research work is part of a big European project on bee mortality. Last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation also forked out a million euros for research into bee mortality in the Netherlands. Wageningen is in this together with the Dutch Centre for Bee Research and the bee sector. Intensive monitoring and evaluation of the collected information would fish up the major causes of the mortality.
ZEMBLA repeated its broadcast of 'Moord op de honingbij' (Murder of the Honeybee) today,  15 March 2011, at 10.25 am in VARA on Dutch Channel 2.

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