RIGHTS ISSUE: A patent on atta chakkis (flour mills). It sure was unexpected. But it's been granted. The latest victim of the patent rights regime is the Asian traditional knowledge of producing atta. The US patent office has given patent rights to Nebraska-based ConAgra Inc for the "method for producing an atta flour'. Significantly, the patent application filed by ConAgra specifies that "the present invention relates to a method of producing Asian breads such as chapati and roti.'
CLONING CONUNDRUM: The row over the cloning of human beings is set to reach a flashpoint, what with the world's first cloned baby reportedly due to be born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in January. Controversial Italian fertility expert Severino Antinori said that the country would go down in history for its "genetic revolution'. He also revealed that it is a baby boy.
FRENCH RESISTANCE: France says it will not support the European Union's (EU) decision to lift the ban on new genetically modified (GM) crops until fresh labelling and detection laws are in place. The country has maintained a tough line, contending that it wants consumer protection norms to be enforced before it changes its stance. Most GM crops have been virtually banned in the EU since 1999.
HIGH-RISK VENTURE: Kazakhstan may soon earn the dubious distinction of becoming the world's first commercial importer of nuclear waste. Kazatomprom, the national atomic company, hopes to start receiving the shipments within a year. Ironically, the main aim of the proposed move is to make enough profits to deal with Kazakhstan's own gigantic waste problem.
NEEM SOLUTION: National Fertilisers Limited has embarked upon a project to develop neem-coated urea for commercial use as pesticide. When mixed with urea and soil, neem regulates nitrogen distribution to crops and thus protects them. In 50 field trials conducted on paddy crops this year, the results of neem usage were remarkable. Yet another neem remedy in the offing?
CLEARING THE AIR: In a bid to reduce air pollution in Bangalore, the Norwegian government will invest US $9 million on a pollution control project in India. Slated for launch in January 2003, it will continue for the next 45 years. The plan is at present awaiting clearance from the Union government.
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