Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More than 100 university professors plead in favour of sustainable agriculture in the Netherlands

In 2001 a Dutch governmental advisory committee led by Herman Wijffels, recommended to initiate and implement drastic changes in Dutch agriculture and livestock raising. Their report was a strong advise to move to a more sustainable system, also taking animal welfare much more into account. A movement towards a true sustainable system, with a stronger focus on quality instead of further growth in production was recommended. The minister at the time, Laurens-Jan Brinkhorst, accepted announced he would take the advice at heart, calling the advise and recommended changes “clear, hard, and inevitable”. Brinkhorst stated that the Netherlands would take an international lead in developing a more animal friendly and societal acceptable farming system, and many of the changes were supposed to be implemented or at least ongoing in 2010.

Now it is 2010, governments and ministers of agriculture have changed, we have had, amongst others, the threat of a H1N1 flu epidemic, we have a Q-fever epidemic in part of the Netherlands, recently very alarming findings have been communicated regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria among people exposed to antibiotic overloaded live stock.

And agriculture and farming have not made the changes recommended in 2001 and embraced by the minister at the time.

A group of more than 100 university professors from a variety of disciplines now ask for action. In a letter in the national news paper NRC Handelsblad of April 28 the plead for a true change towards sustainable agriculture, raising of livestock and farming methods for reasons of (1) environmental protection, climate change prevention, and food security; and (2) public health.

The full letter with argumentation is published on line which included the list of 'authors', and the NRC article, which is a shorter version, can be accessed via the NRC website.