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China amends S&T law to boost research
January 4, 2008 09:50 AM - , SciDevNet
China has revised its science and technology constitution to give greater incentives to researchers, in an effort to boost innovation. China's legislature — the standing committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) — passed the revision of the 1993 Science and Technology (S&T) Progress Law last month (29 December). The law states that the nation's overall research and development (R&D) budget, from both the government and private sectors, should continue to increase steadily each year.
Sugarcane ethanol: Brazil's biofuel success
January 3, 2008 10:48 AM - , SciDevNet
Thirty years ago, when one litre of ethanol was worth three times more than one litre of gasoline, most nations would not have considered investing in it as a biofuel. But Brazil took this path, and now produces the cheapest ethanol in the world. Brazil's favorable conditions and tradition for culturing sugarcane — the most efficient raw material for the production of ethanol — were essential for developing the sector.
Chile approves native forest law after 15 years
December 31, 2007 12:18 PM - , SciDevNet
[SANTIAGO] The Chilean parliament has unanimously approved a law to preserve the country's forests, promote their sustainable use and foster related scientific research.
Rural Nigeria lights up with solar power
December 28, 2007 07:51 PM - Michael Simire, SciDevNet
LAGOS, NIGERIA - Nigeria has launched a solar power scheme that will eventually light up as many as ten rural communities with no access to the national electrical grid. A Lagos state government official, who wished to remain anonymous, said construction work had commenced on the respective projects and contractors were expected to start delivering them around mid to late January 2008.
Traditional medicine plants disappearing as demand rises
December 27, 2007 03:22 PM - Carol Campbell, SciDevNet
Johannesburg - A dwindling supply of wild medicinal plants is threatening South Africa's traditional medicine industry, according to new research. In a paper published by the nongovernmental organisation Health Systems Trust this month, researchers found that the demand for traditional medicine is higher than ever — stimulated by HIV/AIDS, unemployment and rapid urbanisation.
Turning plants into pills in Kenya
December 24, 2007 08:35 PM - Jack Githae, Tatum Anderson , SciDevNet
Kenya - Traditional healers are joining forces with plant chemists in Kenya to develop antimalarials isolated from plants, reports Tatum Anderson. In the shadow of Mount Kenya, traditional healer Jack Githae enters what he describes as his 'natural pharmacy'.
Biofuels: Let's look before we leap
December 19, 2007 09:05 AM - , SciDevNet
A commitment to biofuels should be based on a careful assessment of their prospective benefits and costs, not a blind leap of faith. Several years ago, faced with growing food shortages, the government of Burma — now Myanmar — ordered farmers throughout the country to start growing rice, whatever type of land they owned. But rice proved to be totally unsuitable for many of the regions in the country, with the result that many farmers were forced even further into poverty, from which they have yet to recover.
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.