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South American countries join forces to boost biofuels
December 18, 2007 12:29 PM - Paula Leighton, SciDevNet
Members of the Southern Agricultural Council (CAS) have agreed to carry out research and develop policies to increase biofuel production in the region.The decision was made last week (4 December) during the 13th CAS Regular Meeting, in Asunción, Paraguay.CAS is a forum for the ministers of agriculture and livestock of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
World Bank launches forest defence scheme
December 17, 2007 04:55 PM - Imelda V. Abano, SciDevNet
BALI - The World Bank has launched a financing scheme to help developing countries reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation. The Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) was launched last week (11 December) at the UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Chinese Researchers: Climate Change 'Boosts Plant Health In China'
December 15, 2007 02:33 PM - Wang Shu and Jia Hepeng, SciDevNet
BEIJING - Climate change has helped plants in China become more robust, according to a study by Chinese scientists. Scientists at the Beijing Normal University studied the link between climate factors and changes in plants' net primary productivity — a term used to evaluate the net reserve energy plants need during growth — between 1982 and 1999. "If the net primary productivity of a plant is high, it means the plant grows more healthily," says lead author Zhu Wenquan of the College of Resources at the university.
Scientists unlock secret of emerging chikungunya virus's spread
December 13, 2007 03:54 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet
University of Texas - A simple protein change in the chikungunya virus enables it to adapt to new mosquito hosts and spread to more regions, new research shows. Studies at the US-based University of Texas Medical Branch have found that a single amino acid change in the protein of the virus's outer shell helps it adapt to a new mosquito host, Aedes albopictus. The findings were published last in PLoS Pathogens.
Growing chronic disease will hit poor nations
December 13, 2007 12:58 PM - Naomi Antony, SciDevNet
Developing countries will be severely hit by a growing epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases (CNCDs), say the authors of a new series launched by The Lancet this week (4 December). CNCDs include heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer — diseases that are often seen as secondary to the threat of infectious disease in the developing world. But experts say CNCDs are becoming an increasing danger, and low- and middle-income countries must take action now.
Countries 'ill prepared' as bird flu risk continues
December 13, 2007 12:54 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet
NEW DELHI - Many countries continue to be plagued by poor bird flu surveillance and diagnosis capacity, and weak national preparedness plans, experts have warned.
The third global progress report of the United Nations System Influenza Coordination (UNSIC) and the World Bank is released this month (December). It warns that the risk of global influenza pandemic is as great in late 2007 as it was in mid-2005, when the first cases began to emerge.
Namibia's poor 'will be hit hard' by climate change
December 13, 2007 12:50 PM - Carol Campbell, SciDevNet
Namibia, Africa - Climate change is expected to dramatically alter the lifestyles of poor people in Namibia, say the authors of a study. Their findings were published by the UK-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) this month (December).
Namibia is economically dependent on natural resources. Up to 30 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be reliant on the environment. Climate change could increase temperatures by 2–6 degrees Celsius by 2100, and rainfall is expected to be lower and more variable.
China and Mexico team up to fight wheat disease
December 13, 2007 12:46 PM - Arturo Barba, SciDevNet
MEXICO CITY - Two agricultural research organisations have agreed to collaborate on research to combat wheat diseases and develop climate change-resistant wheat varieties using traditional methods of breeding.The agreement, between the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was signed last week.
India stops further trials of HIV vaccine
December 4, 2007 12:04 PM - T. V. Padma, SciDevNet
NEW DELHI - Human trials of a US-produced HIV/AIDS vaccine were halted in India last month (November) after it was found to induce poor immune responses.
The vaccine, developed by the US-based Targeted Genetics Corporation, uses the adeno-associated virus (AAV) as a vector to deliver an AIDS vaccine against subtype C, the dominant HIV subtype in India.
India's National AIDS Research Institute (NARI) tested the vaccine on 30 volunteers.
China moves to tackle pollution effects on health
December 1, 2007 03:42 PM - Taige Li, SciDevNet
BEIJING, China launched its first national environmental health action plan to enable research in the environment and health sectors to be combined more effectively. The Ministry of Health and the State Environmental Protection Administration announced the plan at the third National Environment Health Forum in Beijing this week (21 November).