Published: Monday 15 November 2004

hardy sugarcane: Scientists from the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, have developed three varieties of sugarcane that are resistant to the woolly aphid pest. Across the country, the pest leads to wide-scale damage, with pesticides proving ineffective against it. The researchers took five years to develop the sturdy varieties, which have proved to be extremely promising during greenhouse trials.

wonder leaf: A herb used for centuries in Indian cooking has the potential to control diabetes, according to scientists from King's College, the UK. The curry leaf -- a must in many south Indian dishes -- contains agents that slow down the rate of starch-to-glucose breakdown in people suffering from diabetes. The leaves can also control the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream.

killing disease: Tuberculosis continues to be the foremost killing disease in India, as per a study by the Tuberculosis Research Centre, Chennai. The rate of infection, especially among children, is rising. The study further indicates that the rate of annual risk of infection (arti) in India is about 10-19 times higher than the arti level in other developing countries. An estimated 1,100-1,900 persons out of every one lakh people are infected every year.

dental crisis: India's first National Oral Health Survey reveals that only nine per cent of the population brushes its teeth twice a day. Consequently, 30 per cent of the population, between the age group of 65-74 years, has no teeth at all. "Moreover, over half the population has no access to modern dental care. The problem is compounded by a critically low dentist population ratio across the country, especially rural areas," says R K Bali, president of the Dental Council of India.

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