Published: Saturday 15 November 2003

gm on the platter: The US government has recently issued a notice to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for failing to comply with safety laws when it allowed offsprings of animals used in a genetic experiment to be sold as food. The pigs had genes from different species; the university claims that their offsprings were normal. According to some consumer groups, the incident reveals gaps in government's oversight. They are calling for penalties.

all-encompassing hypocrisy: The US department of treasury has recently ruled that scientific journals based in the US cannot edit papers submitted by authors from Iran unless they have the government's permission. The policy, described in a letter sent recently to the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, stems from rules prohibiting US organisations from engaging in trade with Iran. Although the trade embargo has been in place since 1997, it is for the first time that the treasury has spelled out how it would affect publishers. Editing is a "service" that requires a special license, notes the department's office of foreign assets control, which enforces the trade sanctions.

cancer in the air: A group of workers who claim they have developed cancer because of their jobs in the electronics industry would soon initiate a landmark legal action in the US state of California. Three former IBM workers claim they were exposed to dangerous chemicals because of their work in the so-called 'clean rooms' where microchips and other electronic parts are made in a dust-free environment. Lawyers of the group claim that the companies' own records show that over the years, people working in IBM's clean rooms developed more of certain types of cancer and died younger than the rest of the population in California.

unsafe limits: Children with severe asthma start suffering from symptoms even at what are now considered to be acceptable levels of air pollution, US researchers report. A study of 271 children with asthma living in Connecticut and Massachusetts showed that those with the worst asthma started to suffer from shortness of breath, coughing and chest congestion even at 'good' air quality levels, as designated by the US Environmental Protection Agency. "The findings should be of concern," says Janneane Gent, an epidemiologist at Yale University, who led the study.

is bt better?: A study conducted by the University of Agriculture, Dharwad, Karnataka, indicates that cultivation of Bt cotton results in a reduction in the usage of pesticides. During the study, more bollworm damage was recorded in conventional cotton fields and NHH-44 hybrids (the commonly used local hybrid) as compared to Bt cotton. While the modified cotton required only three to four applications of pesticides to control bollworms, the conventional cotton and NHH-44 hybrids required four to nine sprayings.

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