Worldlog week 18 – 2015

28 April 2015

Last week, some 700 boat people have drowned again in the Med Dead, the Mediterranean Sea, a lethal barrier to increasingly more people fleeing to Europe in despair. The parties in Dutch government have needed more than a week to reach agreement on the “bed-bath-bread” arrangement, which sets out the rights for asylum seekers who have exhausted all legal means and who are in our country. As the name of the arrangement suggests, these are very basic necessities of life for people who are in big trouble. I find it highly questionable and moreover shameful that this discussion has needed that much time.

Curiously, the political debate continues to focus on symptom control, because removing the breeding ground for the flow of refugees seems to be too complicated for almost all parties. But that is precisely where the solution ought to be sought. Conflicts are increasingly caused by food shortages, resulting from climate and water problems. NATO has warned for “water wars” and researchers at Columbia University have pointed out that the Syrian civil war – one of the causes for the current flow of refugees – is clearly a “climate war”. Conflicts the West often interprets as ethnic or religious are in fact mostly about water and food.

We get roses from Ethiopia and Kenya, beans from Morocco and other African countries affected by droughts. We get animal feed from Brazil, which is drying up fast. And we are only aggravating these problems by emitting more and more greenhouse gases. I find it absurd to complain about people who are asking for bed, bath and bread, while refusing to face the fact that our prosperity rests on the shoulders of the weakest and on the resources of future generations.


In Brussels, we advocate a European ban on the pesticide glyphosate, ingredient of the widely used herbicide. Glyphosate is carcinogenic to humans and animals. This was recently confirmed by scientific research of the World Health Organisation (WHO). What’s more, the poison pollutes rivers and other surface waters. Roundup is used as a weed killer by farmers, government bodies and individuals. Due to this extensive use, a lot of people and animals come in contact with the poison. Research from 2013 indicated that a whopping 63 per cent of all Dutch people had traces of glyphosate in their urine! The European Commission is currently exploring whether glyphosate should continue to be authorised for use in the EU. In this context, however, it mainly looks at studies conducted by chemical companies themselves. We have pushed to particularly look at independent research into this matter.


Experts have warned for a new infectious disease, namely Hepatitis E. Pork is a major source of the encroaching virus. 50% of pigs in the Netherlands have Hepatitis E and 25% of the Dutch population are already infected. The infectious disease is similar to BSE or Q fever, which also transfer from animals to humans. Especially weakened people may become seriously ill due to contamination. In the Rotterdam Erasmus hospital alone, 10 persons who were infected with Hepatitis E have died over the past 3 years. Still, our government has failed to intervene so far. Isn’t that astonishing? I want a debate about this as soon as possible.