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95th INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS, Visakhapatnam, January 3-7, 2008

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  • Indian Society For Sustainable Agricultur
    NEWS Bulletin from Indian Society For Sustainable Agriculture And Rural Development ***************************** 95th INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS, Visakhaptnam,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 14, 2008
      NEWS Bulletin from Indian Society For Sustainable Agriculture And Rural Development
      95th INDIAN SCIENCE CONGRESS, Visakhaptnam, January 3-7, 2008
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      1. Biotech applications need to be amply regulated
      2. DRDO develops transgenic tomato
      3. Having mapped genome, scientists look further
      4. 'Nano tech a solution for medical therapy'
      5. Scientists, pundits converge on Vedic science
      6. 'Study on Ram Setu needed to asses tsunami impact'- Tad S Murthy
      7. PM for new revolution in science education
      8. 'Innovative technology delivery system needed'
      9. DRDO to support basic science research
      10. Women farmers' put up 9-point demand
      11. Next version of ballistic missile in 2009
      12. Science Cong ends sans venue for next meet
      Biotech applications need to be amply regulated
      Posted online: Sunday , January 06, 2008 at 2005 hrs IST
      Ethical, social and environmental concerns relating to the application of biotechnology in several areas need to be recognized, addressed and regulated adequately by law, said the Padma Bhushan awardee and founder director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB), Pushpa M Bhargava.
      Delivering his public lecture at the 95th Indian Science Congress here in Visakhapatnam , Bhargava said, "biotechnology is being applied in at least 32 areas. In some areas it has created wonders, but there are genuine concerns which need to be addressed."
      Take for example DNA finger printing, he said and added "it is an effective tool for determining the parentage of a child. But in some cases such disclosure of the parentage of a child many invite social and ethical problems. Law, therefore, has to fix under which circumstances such disclosures should be made."
      Another area he said was genetic disorders, implying certain chromosomes responsible for certain actions, say for instance murder, theft, rape. "Imagine a situation if it becomes mandatory for every individual to undergo tests for disclosure of genetic disorders. What sort of social problems would be created? Law has to define such disclosures," he said.
      Bhargava said there were about 40,000 formulations for plant-based drugs in Ayurveda, Unanni, Siddha and Tibetan systems, out of which 10,000 such formulation were in the oral traditions of the tribals. "Has the law defined how the tribals would benefit if any company sell these drugs? In my opinion the entire benefits should go to the tribals who own these formulations," he said.
      The unregulated release of genetically modified organisms into the environment may invite concern, he said and alleged: "Bt cotton was released for cultivation in India without adequate tests."
      "How could a vegetarian or a section of a religious community accept a tomato inserted with genes from a fish or a pig?" he quipped.
      Bhargava said that therapeutic cloning and embryo selections have been opposed by vocal sections of some religious communities. He said in China attempts were made to fertilise female chimpanzee with human sperm and the programme was terminated during the cultural revolution.
      On reproductive technology, Bhargava said that there should be transparency. The mother should know whose sperm is being inserted – whether her husband's or someone else's. He said that in case of the death of surrogate mother, the issuance of death certificate at times becomes a problem
      Regarding organ transplantation, he said organs from pig were most suitable bio-chemically, anatomically and physiologically. "But how far this would find social acceptance?" he quipped.
      Bhargava said that if tissue culture in a cash crop like vanilla was allowed to take place indiscriminately, it would pose a problem to about 70,000 farmers in India who were cultivating this crop
      He said that free and uncontrolled applications of some tools of biotechnology, may help terrorists to use it as a weapon of bio-terrorism. Regarding largescale plantation of bio-fuel crops, he said that issues of food security and environmental concerns need to be addressed.
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      DRDO develops transgenic tomato
      Posted online: Tuesday , January 08, 2008 at 0240 hrs IST
      Visakhapatnam, Jan 7 The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a transgenic tomato for growing in the cold desert regions of Ladhak.
      "This transgenic tomato is in the fourth generation and after its fifth generation, it would be subjected to controlled trials under the supervision of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM)," said the chief controller of R&D in life sciences in DRDO, W Selvamurthy at a plenary session in the 95 th Indian Science Congress here on Monday.
      He said that care has been taken to make the transgenic tomato resistant to cold temperatures below 20 degree Celsius and water-stressed conditions of the region.
      According to Selvamurthy, the Pusa Ruby tomato has been introgressed with Osmotin gene through agro-bacterium mediated genetic transformation to enhance inbuilt cold stress tolerance. In vitro selection against selectable marker Kanamycin and PCR analysis of regenerated tomato plantlets for promoter (CaMV), Kanamycin (npt-II) and Osmotin gene has confirmed the gene integration.
      Further confirmation of integration of Osmotic gene has been done by Southern Blot and Western Blot techniques. The T1 plants along with control have also been screened for tolerance to cold stress at a temperature of 3 degree C for three and half days and then exposed to ambient temperature. The morpho-logical, physiological and biochemical studies were underway on these transformed plants. The confirmed lines were being advanced and were under the process of evaluation for different agronomically important parameters, he said.
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      Having mapped genome, scientists look further
      Posted online: Saturday , January 05, 2008 at 1933 hrs IST
      Visakhapatnam, January 4: Scientists have mapped human genome, but the next step remains to understand the human evolution and also to prescribe suitable medicines to individuals based on their genetic make up. The Nobel Laureate Roger Kornberg is confident that the process would be completed in the next five years.
      Addressing a plenary session at the 95th Indian Science Congress in Visakhapatnam on Friday he said, "genes are distributed on random basis. Genetic studies show that no groups are inferior or superior. We need to understand the human evolution. Future genetic studies can be taken at a cost of $ 1000 per person and appropriate medicine for individuals can be prescribed."
      There are 32,000 genes in human beings. DNA, gene and chromosomes are collectively called genome which form the genetic basis of an organism. Human beings respond differently to different drugs said Srinivas Pentyala, a noted geneticist from New York.
      He suggested "from the study of genomics, we should move to the study of proteomics."
      The Indian Council for Medical Research has set up a task force under the national project for clinical laboratory parameters to screen about half-a-million people said Pushpa M Bhargava who heads this pilot project. Bhargava is the former secretary of department of biotechnology and co-chairman of Knowledge Commission and founder director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB),. He said that the project would start this year.
      DNA Profiling Bill 2006 is pending in the Parliament and the proposed law has suggested setting up of a DNA profile advisory board. Prasad Dhulipala, a geneticist from New Jersey said that many developed countries have enacted legislations to facilitate study on human genomes and related medicines. US has DNA Identification Act 1994. UK has a database of 2 million DNA profile. Canada has also enacted similar legislation.
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      'Nano tech a solution for medical therapy'
      Posted online: Saturday , January 05, 2008 at 1943 hrs IST
      Nanoscience holds great prospects for augmenting medical therapy, particularly in drugs delivery at the critical targeted points, said the Nobel Laureate Robert Curl. And that too the delivery would be safe.
      Speaking at a plenary session in 95th Indian Science Congress, Curl said that nano particles which would act as capsules carrying drugs would be biodegradable and safe and would not cause any harm to the human body. Among other aspects where nanoscience can help was the creation of enzymes synthesing molecules which would produce enzymes at the rate required by the human body. This process of producing enzymes would be possible in the near future, he said and added that at present enzymes were produced "artificially without any controls."
      "Take for example the problem of drugs delivery to the retinal cell layers of the eye. The fluid eye ball throws out the medicine. The nano capsule can directly deliver it to the retinal cell layers," said Jamboor K Viswanath, associate dean in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Texas. He said the US Food and Drugs Administration has approved Poly DL Lactide C-glyolide (PLGA) as an effective, sustainable, stable and biodegradable vehicle for drugs delivery. The PLGA has very little cytotoxin effect, he said.
      Viswanath said that nanoscience can be deployed to deal with prostrate cancer and cellular mitigation. The second generation of nano particles to be developed would be targetted nano therapeutics like antibodies and peptides. Nano tech platform for applied drugs can be both viral and non-viral constructs, he said.
      Speaking about the miracles of ancient civilisations, Curl said," Many items like the Persian Khanjar and the Damascus steel were made by unconsciously applying nano technology. The iron ore was procured from India and processed in traditional way at requisite temperatures to produce these wonderful items. While examining these ancient products we find the existance of carbon nano tubes in them." He also said that the colouring on ancient Czech glass was also found to contain nano particles
      He said that nano technology can be used ensure environmental protection by depolying it in the stages of manufacturing, disposal, transportation and exposure.
      G Sundarajan of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Material said nano steels would have a good global market in the near future and so also nano devices, tools and structures. He said that nano silver-based water filter would be in the market within six months. He also said about the prospects of nano structured (copper -alumina) cold spray coating and alumina-based ceramic nano composite for cutting tools.
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      Scientists, pundits converge on Vedic science
      Posted online: Sunday , January 06, 2008 at 2024 hrs IST
      Scientists and pundits were of the view that essence of scientific truth in ancient Vedic and post-vedic Sanskrit literature was still relevant in modern times. Particularly the prescriptions of life style away from today's consumerism and deep insight into reality can be of help to the society.
      The vacuum state described in quantum physics can be compared to the Brahman of Hindu metaphysics.
      This was for the first time in the history of the Indian Science Congress that vedic science got recognition and two successive plenary sessions were held on the issue on Sunday. The plenary session on Vedic Science was chaired by the Chancellor of the Tirupati-based
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