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The Science and Development Network aims to provide reliable and authoritative information about science and technology for the developing world. Their goal is to help both individuals and organizations in developing countries make informed decisions about how science and technology can improve economic and social development.
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How can we improve plant growth?
April 10, 2015 08:36 AM - Edd Gent, SciDevNet
Supercomputers and genetic engineering could help boost crops’ ability to convert sunlight into energy and tackle looming food shortages, according to a team of researchers. Photosynthesis is far from its theoretical maximum efficiency, say the authors of a paper in Cell, published on 26 March. They say that supercomputing advances could allow scientists to model every stage in the process and identify bottlenecks in improving plant growth.
Road kill: Recommendations to protect biodiversity
March 20, 2015 08:43 AM - Michelle Kovacevic, SciDevNet
Governments and donors must pay more attention to the environmental impact of road networks to limit their “devastating” effect on ecosystems, a study on global infrastructure expansion has warned. Road construction opens a “Pandora’s box” of negative impact, according to the authors of the paper, published this month in Current Biology. These include deforestation, animals hunted to extinction, land grabs by speculators betting on development, and wildfires.
Putting a value on forests
February 23, 2015 07:00 AM - Kaz Janowski, SciDevNet
The day I first set foot in a tropical rainforest, in Malaysia in the early 1980s, I experienced something profound. From the echoes of gibbons calling from the canopy in the early morning mist to the iridescent flash of a bird in a beam of sunlight, rainforests are a sensory delight as well as a marvel to anyone’s scientific curiosity.
As I subsequently watched these forests dwindle and, in some cases, vanish, I have felt an equally profound sense of loss and a nagging guilt that I was somehow part of the story, because I had done little to remedy the situation.
Hope for the Monarch Butterfly
November 24, 2014 03:59 PM - Imogen Mathers, SciDevNet
When millions of monarch butterflies take to the sky and fly thousands of kilometres from the United States and southern Canada to Mexico, the view is breathtaking. But over the last few decades, their numbers have plummeted, and last year hit an all-time low. Illegal logging in Mexican forests, where the monarchs hibernate during winter, has traditionally been to blame. But large-scale logging by companies appears to have been halted. And now small-scale logging by local people for firewood and timber — a “growing concern in 2013” — has also stopped, according to a study published last month (27 October) in Biological Conservation.
Water-saving Technology for Rice Farms Introduced
November 10, 2014 10:07 AM - Fatima Arkin, SciDevNet
Agriculture experts say application of alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology in Vietnam’s rice farms, one of South-East Asia’s largest rice-producing countries, holds great promise in cutting water use and greenhouse gas emissions from rice cultivation without sacrificing yield output. Vietnam along with Bangladesh and Colombia recently partnered with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) to introduce the large-scale application of AWD, also known as controlled irrigation in which farmers periodically drain rice paddies rather than keeping them perpetually flooded.
First Hookworm Vaccine Passes Brazilian Safety Trial
October 8, 2014 09:33 AM - SciDevNet, SciDevNet
A vaccine for parasitic intestinal worms has been shown to be safe in Brazilian clinical trials, according to its US developer. Hookworm parasites infect more than 600 million people worldwide, attaching themselves to the intestines to feed on blood. Infection can lead to iron deficiency and capillary damage, and may retard children’s growth and mental development.
US Pledges climate change planning assistance to developing countries
October 3, 2014 04:29 PM - Editor, SciDevNet
The United States will commit to significantly improving developing countries' access to data, tools and training to help them adapt to climate change, the US president told the Climate Summit in New York last week (23 September). Barack Obama pledged to immediately release higher resolution topographical data for Africa, to scale up a training programme to boost meteorologists’ ability to monitor and predict climate change, and to create a public-private partnership to put climate-relevant information and tools in the hands of developing world policymakers.
UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals
September 5, 2014 08:07 AM - Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.
August 26, 2014 12:32 PM - Eliette Angel, SciDevNet
"This is one of the best beers that I have ever tried," says Andrés Barrera. My friend is enjoying a craft beer called Atrapaniebla — Spanish for fog catcher — an ale made with water condensed from mountain fog on two fog catchers. The microbrewery that produces it, located in Peña Blanca (some 360 kilometres north of Santiago, the Chilean capital), is one of the first Chilean enterprises to make use of fog-catching technology; others use it to water tomato and aloe vera crops. "Water from fog catchers has less nitrite and nitrate than the drinking water in the north of Chile, which is good for beer," says Miguel Ángel Carcuro, 29-year-old co-owner of the microbrewery that makes Atrapaniebla. Of course, while beer is nice, water is essential and fog catchers can be a great way to provide this sometimes scarce commodity. Carcuro's interest in this technology stems from teenage travels with his father, who showed him a hill above the bay of Chungungo, where there were the remains of fog catchers that had until recently provided water for 100 families.
Electricity from silk cocoons?
August 25, 2014 08:59 AM - Richa Malhotra, SciDevNet
Researchers in India say they have developed a prototype of an energy-harvesting device from the cocoons of a domesticated species of silk moth. They hope to put the technology to practical use while also tackling waste materials from the silk processing industry.