The manager of a drugstore in Etten-Leur, Noord-Brabant was caught selling a pallet of baby formula out the back of the shop before the product hit the shelves. However, this apparently happens often around the country, as managers receive their bonuses based on their turnover rather than their margins. If they are always able to sell their pallets of formula in one go, it’s no surprise some of them will move product this way. Almost everyone in the Netherlands has noticed that baby formula can only be bought one or two tins at a time due to a constant shortage.
The media tends to blame the Chinese who buy up baby formula, but that’s only half the picture. The shortage is not caused by individual Chinese buying up units or even a pallet out the back, but mainly by Dutch producers of formula who can sell it at three times the Dutch price on Chinese websites where only a select handful of foreign companies are allowed to do business. According to the Telegraaf in 2013, Chinese resellers can make millions selling Dutch baby formula to the Chinese whether it comes directly from Dutch companies or Chinese selling it themselves. I’ve read that ambitious traders who buy pallets get the product into China through Hong Kong, even a few tins at a time if need be.
Sure, the Chinese can buy domestic formula, but since the scandals of 2008, expecting parents would rather buy quality foreign products, and big European companies know this all too well.
(Link: nieuws.nl, Photo of a poster protesting Nutricia by Martijn van Exel, some rights reserved)
Tags: baby formula, Chinese, milk powder, Noord-Brabant
A survey conducted by women’s magazine ‘Opzij’ showed that single women are refused IVF treatment at 19 out of the 39 Dutch hospitals they researched, indicating discrimination. They are often told to go somewhere else with better facilities like a sperm bank or with counselling to avoid telling them flat out they won’t treat single women. The hospitals’ moral view is often that ‘a child should have two parents’, but it is illegal to refuse someone based on their single ‘lifestyle’. On the other hand, a history of abuse or addiction is a good reason to refuse treatment to someone.
Frank Broekmans of the Dutch association of gynaecologists and obstetrician says hospitals that refuse to perform IVF are not acting unlawfully because enough hospitals can cater to single women and it’s not necessary medical attention. He also believes a child is not well-served by having only one parent, but again, that’s discrimination even if it is a widely-held belief.
Bart Fauser of the UMC Utrecht hospital, the same hospital where Broekmans works and the most friendly towards single women looking for IVF treatment, says that there is no scientific proof that children of a single parent have a worse time of it. Once Fauser tried to screen a couple before an IVF treatment and he was heavily criticised, leading him to believe that couples always seem to have the right to decide what’s best for them, but not single women.
All I know is that Belgium has more IVF clinics, and like for many procedures including childbirth (if I can continue to believe the people around me), Dutch residents cross the border to get treated without the hassles they experience in the Netherlands.
(Links: www.volkskrant.nl, www.opzij.nl)
Tags: discrimination, hospitals, IVF, single women, women
I read the article ‘Yves Saint Laurent advert banned for using ‘unhealthily underweight’ model’, but only when I read a Dutch article did I find out that the banned advert featured 18-year-old Dutch model Kiki Willems from Maastricht.
I can’t judge if she has a weight or eating disorder, but I can say that there are many tall, thin yet healthy Dutch girls and women around me that have diets ranging from strict vegan to burgers and fries.
According to a Limburg radio interview with a Vogue fashion expert Willem has been a ‘plank’ her whole life. And yes many Dutch people are apparently offended by the advert. Arguing that seeing super thin models sends a bad signal to girls is surely a valuable point, but it’s funny how with today’s trend of using bigger models nobody is pulling adverts saying that big models promote bad eating habits because that would be fat-shaming and assuming they eat poorly.
France has a specific BMI for models that can be circumvented if we believe the media, the UK has the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) monitoring adverts and the Netherlands to my knowledge has nothing but opinions.
(Links: www.waarmaarraar.nl, www.l1)
Tags: fat-shaming, Kiki Willems, Maastricht
American broadcaster PBS visited the Netherlands to take a look at Spring Fever, a week of sex education classes for children aged 4 to 12.
Eight-year-olds learn about self-image and gender stereotypes. Eleven-year-olds discuss sexual orientation and contraceptive options. But in the Netherlands, the approach, known as ‘comprehensive sex education,’ starts as early as age 4. You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education. That’s because the goal is bigger than that.
Younger children get taught about the differences between boys and girls, where babies come from, love, and boundaries. This year was the 10th anniversary of Spring Fever Week.
Tags: children, kindergarten, sex education
The Dutch are among the tallest people in the world. According to the Guardian, Dutch men average a height of 1.84 metres and women a height of 1.71 metres.
Although no-one knows exactly why this is, it has long been held that health and well-being may have something to do with it.
Cue Gert Stulp, a 2-metre-tall Dutchman working at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who says the impressive rise of 20 centimetres in the past 150 years may have to do with natural selection. Writes Science:
[Stulp] and his colleagues turned to a database tracking key life data for almost 100,000 people in the country’s three northern provinces. The researchers included only people over 45 who were born in the Netherlands to Dutch-born parents. This way, they had a relatively accurate number of total children per subject (most people stop having children after 45) and they also avoided the effects of immigration.
In the remaining sample of 42,616 people, taller men had more children on average, despite the fact that they had their first child at a higher age. The effect was small—an extra 0.24 children at most for taller men—but highly significant. (Taller men also had a smaller chance of remaining childless, and a higher chance of having a partner). The same effect wasn’t seen in women, who had the highest reproductive success when they were of average height. The study suggests this may be because taller women had a smaller chance of finding a mate, while shorter women were at higher risk of losing a child.
The result is that if tall-making genes exist, they get passed onto the children of tall men.
See also: Why are the Dutch so tall?
(Photo by Metro Centric, some rights reserved)
A two million euro grant could see professor Alan Rowan of Radboud University turn so-called super gel into a band-aid on steroids (figuratively, of course).
The Nijmegen-based professor of molecular chemistry accidentally discovered super gel in 2013 when his team put a jar of polymers in the fridge. Instead of gelling, the polymers dissolved completely into water, but when the researchers took the jar out of the fridge, the solution turned into a gel again.
According to Kennislink the super gel “acts the same as the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the human body. This matrix is a network of molecules connecting the cells, providing fibres with both support and elasticity. The most important constituents of ECM are the natural polymers collagen and fibrin.”
Companies from all over the world sent professor Rowan their ideas of what the new gel could be used for, from letting sports bras firm up when the wearer gets warmer to slowly releasing pesticides after they have been sprayed on plants. “Companies want a finished raw material, but we did not know anything about the gel. We needed to know whether we can guarantee the quality, whether the polymer is poisonous, how long it lasts and if the human body can digest it.”
The two million euro grant was one of five grants awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) on 5 February.
(Photo by Wikipedia user Henningklevjer, some rights reserved; link: Radboud University)
Tags: band aids, gels, Radboud University, super gel, supergels
About a year ago Dordrecht opened the first modern day baby hatch for women in dire situations to be able to drop off their unwanted babies safely as foundlings. Online news source Dichtbij.nl says that Groningen and Papendrecht each have one as well. The provinces of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant will soon be opening baby hatches, and there are plans to open some in more prominent places such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and Maastricht.
Currently Dutch law forbids abandoning babies for them to be adopted as foundlings and Child Protection Services agrees, claiming children have the right to know who their parents are. The government has no plans to close down, stop or pursue anyone who would abandon a baby in these places, so the government will remain inert on the issue for now.
Sadly, an alternative that occasionally makes the news is when a child has been left in the forest or in a rubbish bin.
(Link: www.bbc.co.uk, Illustration by Leonardo da Vinci)
Tags: Amsterdam, babies, baby hatch
Traditional fishing village Volendam is the butt of jokes for many things including hard drugs and ‘palingsound’ (‘eel sound’), a type of pop music from Volendam, referring to their smoked eel speciality. Then there’s the New Year’s Eve fire of 2000 where fresh pine trees branches (yup, illegal) were used as decoration on the ceiling of a cafe overflowing with people that caught fire because of a sparkler and caused deaths and serious injuries.
Nevertheless, the jokes about inbred villagers aren’t jokes. Three quarters of locals who want to have children get themselves checked out for a total of four hereditary diseases. One out of three villagers is a carrier, and if two carriers get together, that’s a 25% chance of hitting the jackpot. The 22,000 villagers all come from the same seven to twenty original families that settled the village, which explains many of the health issues, but not their ‘eel sound’.
‘Palingpop’ as the music is also called, started in the mid 1960s with easy listening tunes that resembled the American and British bands of the era. The term was coined by a radio station (video in Dutch) that would receive smoked eel as a present every time someone from Volendam would visit them. Acts such as The Cats and BZN as well as more contemporary singers such as Jan Smit and Nick & Simon are quite famous throughout the country and beyond.
(Link: www.parool.nl, Photo of Volendam by quantz, some rights reserved)
Tags: eel, palingpop, palingsound, smoked eel, Volendam
Dutch-American company Axim is working on the world’s first medicinal marijuana chewing gum, which will be produced in Almere, Flevoland. It should be on the market in two years and it is currently being tested on Dutch patients who have chronic pain due to multiple sclerosis. This special chewing gum will work like nicotine gum, with the cannabis being absorbed slowly by the body in some 20 minutes.
You can easily buy ‘nutraceutical’ chewing gum that contains cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive component of pot, but Axim plans to make chewing gum with THC in it, the psychoactive ingredient of pot for patients who suffer chronic pain from many different medical conditions.
(Links: www.foodlog.nl, www.in-pharmatechnologist.com)
Tags: Almere, cannabis, Flevoland, marijuana
Amsterdam-based entrepreneur Martijn Wismeijer had two NFC chips injected into his hands earlier this month, The Telegraph writes.
The chips are to act as encrypted Bitcoin wallets. Wismeijer is the owner of Mr. Bitcoin, a company that distributes and operates ATMs for the currency.
Wismeijer told The Telegraph, “Most doctors will not want to install the implant so a body manipulation artist (preferably not just tattoo artist or piercer) will be your next best bet. Make sure they work according to strict hygiene codes and know what they are doing.”
Parool adds that Rockstart in Amsterdam (a start-up accelerator) hosted an implant session yesterday where one could have a sub-dermal NFC chip injected for about 130 euro. Wismeijer told the newspaper that currently about 2000 people have such implants.
It’s not clear from the articles whether Wismeijer uses the chips to store Bitcoins, keys to unlock Bitcoins or something else.
Check the Telegraph for a video in which the question “does it hurt” is answered. Too scared / don’t want to? Martijn Wismeijer told Parool: “They were the biggest needles I’ve ever seen.”
(Photo by BTC Keychain, some rights reserved)
Tags: Bitcoin, Bitcoins, NFC, wallets