seed cover: Geneticists, scientists and head honchos of industry, supported by the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation, have been assigned the task of creating an international fund to conserve seed varieties. The proposed Global Conservation Trust would raise US $260 million to protect crop diversity from natural disasters and other threats, including war. It is felt that a possible flare-up in Iraq could jeopardise seed banks in the region. Currently, nearly 1,470 gene banks exist worldwide.
creditable venture: A US $7.6-million programme has been launched to finance solar power systems for 18,000 households in Karnataka. The initiative involves the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and two of India's largest banking groups. The latter are giving soft loans for photovoltaic solar home systems, with pared interest rates courtesy of the UNEP. The scheme aims to achieve environmental and development goals by removing a major hurdle to the use of renewable energy: access to finance.
tourism toll: Dolphin deaths are said to be on the rise along Goa's coastline. Residents of the Nerul and Candolim belt say they have seen injury marks on the carcasses that are washed ashore. They suspect that tourist activities like adventure sports and boating trips, in addition to fishing on an unprecedented scale, are destroying the dolphin habitat. But, to date, no investigation has been initiated to look into the matter.
soft targets: For the first time the US has admitted that kids are more susceptible to certain carcinogens than adults. This position has been taken in the final draft of the revised federal guidelines for cancer risk assessment. The move could overhaul federal policymaking procedures undertaken to minimise the risk posed by environmental pollutants.
pil on cold wave: Even as summer approaches, the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union government and several states on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition regarding cold wave deaths. The PIL alleges that over 700 lives were lost in north India this winter due to the failure of state governments to provide shelter and relief. States mentioned include Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
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