Worldlog Week 36 – 2011

9 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

The parliamentary year reopened last Tuesday. During ‘question time’ – a weekly session at which members of parliament can put questions directly to members of the government – I asked the Minister of Public Health whether she was prepared to ban preventive antibiotics in the cattle-raising industry. This week’s edition of the Dutch consumer watchdog TV programme Radar again demonstrated how serious the problem is. Administering antibiotics preventively to healthy animals causes resistant bacteria which can eventually be harmful to human health. The most minor of infections can be fatal if a person is infected with resistant bacteria as antibiotics will then not work. The Radar broadcast mentioned a woman who had died in early 2010 from a urinary tract infection because she was infected with the resistant ESBL bacteria. The antibiotics she was given had no effect.

We can no longer just stand by as ever more resistant bacteria emerge that people become infected with by, for example, eating meat. The minister said that she had no current plans to ban preventive antibiotics. She first wants to carefully review the recommendation of the Health Council. The Health Council (an independent government advisory body) urges the use of fewer and different antibiotics in the cattle-raising industry and in human healthcare. I will keep reminding the minister of the need to ban preventive antibiotics.

My colleague Esther Ouwehand has requested an emergency debate with Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bleker on the construction of the coal-fired power plant in Eemshaven, a seaport in the province of Groningen. Reason for the debate was the decision by the administration of the province of Groningen to allow the construction to start without first conducting a thorough study into the effects on the environment.

The Council of State (the government’s most important advisory body) ruled on 24 August that the environmental licence for the construction of the controversial coal-fired power plant was wrongly issued. There had not been enough study of the effects of the new coal-fired power plant on the flora and fauna of this vulnerable part of the Wadden Sea coast. But the provincial administration decided that the construction could go ahead despite the lack of an environmental licence.

The construction of the plant also jeopardizes implementation of the Bird and Habitat Guideline, nature conservation regulations that have also been signed by the Netherlands. As the Deputy Minister of Agriculture is responsible for the proper observance of these agreements, he must now come before parliament to explain what he plans to do about the construction of this polluting power plant. We want the deputy minister to stop the construction immediately and to honour the ruling of the Council of State. The Wadden Sea region is entitled to protection, not illegal coal-fired power plants!

And I end with some good news. In another case, the Council of State ruled as wrongful that expansions of cattle farms near nature reserves do not require a licence. This means that many of those expansions will still need to be examined to determine what harmful effects they could be having on the environment. We are pleased with this ruling, which puts a brake on the continuous efforts to undermine the Nature Conservation Act in favour of the cattle-raising industry.

Until next week!