van den Hurk
Alternative names: Gerry (English), Gilbert (French).
Having qualified as a tropical and subtropical agriculture engineer (Deventer, The Netherlands, 1965) and completed his military service, Gijs started out as a commercial representative for a Dutch trading company in Singapore selling agro-chemicals, veterinary pharmaceuticals and Australian window glass, while profoundly acquiring the charming and courteous traditional Chinese manners. The reward: his own Cantonese family name: Mr. Ban Tek Hock.
After a thorough technical and commercial training in crop protection chemicals with Philips Duphar in Amsterdam (1969-1971), he relocated to Geneva, Switzerland, to market herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and plant growth regulating hormones in Europe, in the Soviet Union and in Africa for Stauffer Chemicals (1971-1980) and Union Carbide (1980-1983). He obtained considerable practical experience in the development, registration, marketing and application of crop protection chemicals, pesticides and related agro-pharmaceuticals, as well as in the field of human and environmental protection.
As consultant for the UNEP in Geneva (1983-1984) he assisted on the first UNEP publications on the management and disposal methods of hazardous industrial waste chemicals, particularly pesticides and agro-chemicals.
As consultant for the WHO in Geneva (1984-1986), he assisted the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), the JMPR (Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues), the JECFA (Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives) and the Codex Alimentarius with the harmonisation of internationally acceptable residue levels for crop protection chemicals, pesticides, food additives, veterinary pharmaceuticals and contaminants in food. This work gave him invaluable hands-on experience in the evaluation of toxicological end-points and allowed him to interact closely with senior toxicologists from member countries.
As manager of a small biotechnical company in Zurich (Biodyn, 1986-90) he developed toxin degrading enzymes for use in canned and preserved food and drinks. He promoted the marketing of "head ache free" and/or "hang over free" wines and alcoholic drinks for allergic consumers, susceptible to biogenic amines (histamine, tyramine, phenylethylamine, etc.) detectable in fermented food products and fermented alcoholic beverages.
During 1990-2003 he advised underwriters of Swiss Reinsurance Company on human toxicological and environmental impairment risks. He re-evaluated (new) and potentially hazardous industrial chemicals, intermediates, pesticides, contaminants (TCA: cork-taste in wine), pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, biochemicals, biotechnical products, dyes, paints, petrochemicals, polymers, asbestos and man made mineral fibres and subsequently re-assessed the potential product and industrial liability exposures of the manufacturers and of their waste handling contractors concerned.
He re-assessed the managerial quality and sustainability of various chemical and pharmaceutical companies in the USA, Europe, Israel, India and China with regard to the safe synthesis, handling, packaging, labeling and marketing of potentially hazardous substances as well as the operating quality of their waste removing, recycling, incinerating and disposal sites.
One of his main activities concerned "early warning interventions" to avoid bodily injury claims and environmental impairment claims by proposing precautionary measures and specific insurance policy wordings concerning new substances (pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, crop protection chemicals, biopesticides, biochemicals, biotechnical products, genetically modified organisms, food additives, cosmetics, etc.) prior to their first commercial launch and market application.
Early April 2003 he founded the scientific consultancy group “ToxRe” in the conviction that scientific professionalism combined with strict confidentiality - to safeguard intellectual property rights and exclusive rights on toxicological proprietary data - is the golden key to a successful scientific consultancy business.