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UN roadmap paves way for curbing biopiracy
June 13, 2008 10:18 AM - , SciDevNet
Countries have agreed a roadmap for negotiating an agreement for the sharing of genetic resources, following a UN biodiversity conference. The two-week conference in Bonn, Germany, ended last month (30 May) with renewed promises from countries to substantially reduce the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
Take biofuel crops off the land and grow them at sea
June 6, 2008 09:47 AM - , SciDevNet
The environmental and social costs of producing biofuels on land can be avoided by farming seaweed, says Ricardo Radulovich. The dream of tackling climate change with biofuels has been tarnished by the rush to produce them on land.
Researchers boost yields of rice-waste biofuel
June 3, 2008 09:57 AM - , SciDevNet
Chinese scientists have developed a new method that dramatically increases the yield of a clean biogas fuel from rice straw. China is the world's largest rice producer and the industry results in 230 million tonnes a year of surplus rice 'straw' — the stem and leaves left behind after harvesting. Farmers often burn the straw, increasing pollution and carbon dioxide emissions (see Stalk burning fuels China pollution woes).
Climate change 'will cost Andes US$30 billion'
May 23, 2008 08:20 AM - , SciDevNet
Climate change could cost Andean countries US$30 billion per year by 2025, according to a study. The study was commissioned by the Andean Community of Nations and carried out by the Peruvian University of the Pacific, with the support of specialists from Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador.
Mixed feelings for Pakistan environmental assessments
May 21, 2008 09:25 AM - , SciDevNet
The practice of carrying out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports is gaining ground in Pakistan, experts say, although questions about their quality remain. EIAs evaluate the biological, cultural, socioeconomic and environmental impacts of projects on the environment.
Climate change having 'worldwide, widespread effects'
May 20, 2008 08:38 AM - , SciDevNet
[BEIJING] Many physical and ecological systems are being affected by the world's warming climate, researchers say. Scientists from across the world applied statistical models to published data on changes in 829 physical systems and around 28,800 plant and animal systems —on both global and continental scales — some with data going back to 1970.
Agri-biotech firms committing 'intellectual property grab'
May 19, 2008 09:05 AM - , SciDevNet
Some of the world's major agri-biotech companies are applying for hundreds of patents on genetically engineered 'climate crops', carrying out what amounts to an "intellectual property grab" in the lucrative market, according to a recent report. About 530 patents have been applied for worldwide, with a few dozen granted and hundreds pending. They include traits such as drought, flooding, high salt level, high temperatures and ultraviolet radiation — all of which endanger food security.
UN: Mangrove loss 'intensified' Myanmar cyclone damage
May 16, 2008 09:28 AM - , SciDevNet
Large-scale destruction of mangroves contributed heavily to the damage inflicted by cyclone Nargis in Myanmar last week, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Myanmar, home to the eighth largest mangrove area in the world, has lost large swathes of mangroves over the last four decades. FAO estimates from 2005 put the loss at around 70,000 hectares between 1972 and 2005, but 2008 estimates suggest this could be much higher.
Ignored warnings 'worsened' Myanmar cyclone disaster
May 12, 2008 09:02 AM - , SciDevNet
Experts say the inadequate response of the government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) to scientists' warnings, coupled with large-scale destruction of protective mangroves along its coasts, aggravated the devastation wreaked by tropical cyclone Nargis. The cyclone has killed an estimated 22,980 people so far, with millions rendered homeless by the disaster, which struck the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar last week (3 May).
WHO urged to back radical changes in drug R&D
May 12, 2008 08:41 AM - , SciDevNet
An international group of prominent academics — including several Nobel prize winners — has urged WHO member states to support radically new ways to address the lack of research into diseases that affect the poor. In particular, they are seeking a sizeable increase in government support for research into these diseases through an international research and development (R&D) fund, and alternatives to the financial incentives of patents.