The House of Representatives has criticized the way in which Caroline van der Plas (BBB) ​​questions the integrity of scientists. It mainly concerns emeritus professor Leen Hordijk, who investigated the nitrogen measurements in 2019.

    Van der Plas found it remarkable that Hordijk said something different about his research in an agricultural magazine than in an interview with news hour a few days later. “What’s behind that?” she wondered on Thursday during the debate about the cabinet’s nitrogen plans.

    Van der Plas himself gave the answer. “I think the livestock has been halved. That’s the dot on the horizon.” Van der Plas also insinuated that the Ministry of Agriculture news hour had approached to interview Hordijk.

    CDA MP Derk Boswijk, among others, reacted indignantly. “I come across a lot of farmers and this bothers me a lot,” he said.

    “People look at me and ask: are you also part of the conspiracy? Isn’t it your goal to halve the livestock and kill the agricultural sector? This is really undermining.”

    Boswijk believes that a line is being crossed if MPs start to doubt scientists in general.

    Editor-in-chief of news hour Pieter Klein immediately let up Twitter know that the program has approached Hordijk itself, “without the intervention or interference of anyone or anything”.

    Van der Plas persisted: she believes that the cabinet cannot take major decisions, such as buying out farmers, as long as it is not exactly clear “that nitrogen rises from that cow and precipitates on that plant” and what the consequences are.

    She advises farmers to put this question to the court if they are expropriated on the basis of nature restoration. “I predict: that will be a long, legal agony for the government.”

    Boswijk called it “deception” to act that you first have to be “1,000 percent sure” before you start something. “Yes, mistakes are made. That’s inherent in science. But I’m glad we didn’t wait for medical science to know everything, because then we wouldn’t be older than 25 years.”

    ‘You have populism and flat populism’

    GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver also got involved in the discussion. “You have populism and flat populism. I’ve been listening to that last one for 45 minutes.”

    He mentioned questioning science with “signal words” like “what’s behind that?” dangerous. “It’s poison,” he said to Van der Plas.

    “Soon there will be police houses in front of scientists or they will not be able to go to a festival. Then the House of Representatives will be too small again and we will all be very sorry.”

    Van der Plas was again not pleased with the fact that she is being held “indirectly responsible” for possible future threats to scientists. “I think that’s a serious accusation.”

    Since the nitrogen policy was brushed aside by the judge in 2019, there has been a lot of criticism about how nitrogen emissions and precipitation are measured. The previous cabinet had a committee led by Hordijk investigate the matter. The conclusion: the measuring instruments are “sufficient to good”, but there are areas for improvement.

    According to Hordijk, those points for improvement were subsequently taken out of context by MPs. “We know a lot about nitrogen,” he recently told NU.nl. “Of course it can always be more precise, but that won’t fundamentally change the pattern we see now.” Other experts also say that the measurements are correct.

    Hundreds of scientists recently expressed their concerns about making scientists suspicious in parliamentary debates in a letter sent to them. They called for “an even stronger stance” against politicians who abuse their parliamentary immunity to “make baseless accusations and insinuations against scientists”.

    ttn-19