Articles from the Correspondent

Articles by Thomas Oudman
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831 2020-12-09 The next pandemic is being hatched in industrial poultry farms
The current avian influenza outbreak in northwestern Europe isn’t dangerous for humans. But it’s only a matter of time before there’s a new strain that will cause a deadly pandemic, scientists warn. And it’s clear as day where these new deadly subtypes might come from: the European poultry industry.
Thomas Oudman 13
781 2020-11-06 Dear David Attenborough, beautiful Netflix documentary. But your ‘solutions’ destroy nature even more
Dear Sir David Attenborough, I recently saw your new film, A Life on Our Planet – a beautiful, harrowing documentary about the global decline of our natural ecosystems. It’s a bitter pill with a sweet dessert: a possible way out of this mess. I couldn’t help but choke on that dessert – because you suddenly mention the Netherlands as a leading example for the rest of the world.   As a Dutch person, this would be a great honour, if it weren’t for the fact that you are gravely mistaken. Your reasoning is as follows. We humans are cultivating more and more land for agriculture to support our growing global population, thereby destroying natural ecosystems. The most important example is a seemingly endless succession of palm oil plantations in Borneo, built at the expense of the richest nature on Earth, including orangutans, our siblings in the canopy. So, you say, we need to focus all our energies on cultivating more food on less land. “The Dutch have become experts at getting the most out of every hectare,” we hear you say with your familiar eloquent tone. “Despite its size, the Netherlands is now the world’s second largest exporter of food.” According to you, the Netherlands has increased its production tenfold, while using fewer pesticides and artificial fertilisers, with lower CO2 emissions. We see tomatoes growing in futuristic greenhouses, and even vertical farming: heads of lettuce growing one above the other, 10 storeys high, illuminated by purple LED lighting.But the fact that we are champion exporters is not because we pile heads of lettuce on top of each other or because we grow sustainable sci-fi tomatoes. The “food product” that makes us champion exporters doesn’t taste good: it’s
Thomas Oudman 106
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