Security guards have been stationed in a field of potatoes in Wetteren, East Flanders, to prevent damage by possible protestors. The potatoes are a field-test of genetically modified organisms run by the Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research (ILVO) and are resistant to potato blight, a disease that costs potato farmers around €55 million a year in lost crops. A group called the Belgian Field Liberation Movement has threatened to destroy part of the crop on 29 May.
The price of vegetables has hit rock-bottom, with supply so large that some farmers are being forced to destroy their own crops, according to the Farmers’ Union. Prices for lettuce are halved, broccoli down 45% and other seasonal crops, like cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and endive are all down 30%. The problem, explained Philippe Appeltans of the union, is that the usual calendar of crops from the south being followed by crops from Belgium has been disrupted. “In the south, growth has been held up by bad weather. Here the warm weather means our harvests are not only huge, but also several weeks too early. The result is a huge supply that sends prices through the floor.”
Finally, an international research study headed by researchers from the Catholic University of Leuven has hit headlines across the world with a claim that salt has little or no effect on hypertension and heart attacks. In fact, not only is it of little use to cut the amount of salt in the diet, the study led by Professor Jan Staessen said, but those who consume low levels of salt could be more at risk.