Nieuws - 17 juni 2019

An enjoyable moment of freedom

If I were to create a word cloud of Wageningen University’s latest buzzwords, it would probably include, in no particular order: CRIPSR-Cas, Syngenta, Louise Fresco, nonsensical weather. What’s most important is not what your opinion is about these topics, but the fact you’re free to express it.

© Sven Menschel

I was scanning through the latest Resource some days ago with a couple of housemates, as it often happens on chill working days’ evenings when a new edition is out. From distracted title-reading, soon we got engaged in animated discussions about Louise Fresco’s fresh position in Syngenta and CRISPR-Cas related existential thoughts and the mos maiorum breakdown. Of course, I imagine that lots of other people have been sucked in this light-hearted chats recently. Whatever the position of people could be, though, the thing that actually strikes me is how open everybody is about tricky, sometimes delicate, issues.

It’s not only hippie students, for instance, strongly contesting Fresco’s latest decision. Teachers and professors, too, express their disagreement publicly, even on the pages of the university magazine. As well as those sincerely supportive. And Fresco’s opinion and responses are also there, open, crystal clear.

Controversy on CRISPR-Cas? A debate is organised, where everybody can go, where one of the discoverers is present and ready to answer all possible questions.

How beautiful is this? Whatever the values or positions could be, there’s space for them to be expressed. I do not know whether this honesty and openness come from the Dutch culture or are a peculiarity of Wageningen’s inclusive and open-minded environment. But it is for sure a marvellous characteristic of this place. People have and feel the freedom and the right to openly express their thoughts fearless, also on political or ethical matters as the cases abovementioned can be.

Clearly, I do have an opinion about these hot topics. But for once, I wanted to abstract from redundant content and look at it differently…

Oh and by the way: no, I don’t like that the president of the board of my university seats in Syngenta’s board room. And no, I don’t like this CRISPR-Cas hype in agriculture, as I find it the wrong solution for the wrong problems in this specific sector.

Et-voilà, got this off my chest. Enjoyable moment of freedom. 

Donatella Gasparro