FALLING OUT: Bangladesh-based Grameen bank, the pioneering micro-credit institution, has fallen out with Monsanto, the agro-chemical combine, just a month after agreeing to a partnership to introduce biotechnology to small farming communities in Bangladesh. The first project envisaged demonstration of cotton farming using hybrid cotton to increase yields and reduce cotton imports by the Bangladesh's garment industry. Monsanto produces a patented cotton plant that contains a gene that kills off predatory worms. Several environmental groups fear that Monsanto's technology will reduce crop varieties and increase the farmer's financial dependence on large companies.
HYBRID CARS: Toyota Motor Corp is expected to export 20,000 gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles a year to North America and Europe. The car, which went on sale in Japan in December this year, is the world's first mass-produced hybrid vehicle, combining a gasoline engine and an electric motor to cut emissions and fuel consumption. It is about the carbon-dioxide emissions of a comparable gasoline engine and has a fuel-efficiency rating in Japan of 28 km per litre.
CUTTING COSTS: Shanta Biotech, the manufacturer of Hepatitis-B vaccine, plans to supply the vaccine at Rs 75 a dose for the public health programme. At present, the vaccine costs Rs 150 per dose compared to the SmithKline Beecham's imported drug costing Rs 400. Shanta Biotech had developed the indigenous vaccine with the financial help of the department of biotechnology. Varaprasad Reddy, managing director of the company, says that the production is being increased from 1.8 million doses last year to 2.5 million in this fiscal year due to increased demand.
IMPROVING EFFICIENCY: Kamesh-warnath Malik, a Patna-based oncoll M ogist, has developed an agro-based bio-mass liquid called "Feacksol" that can increase mileage and efficiency of automobile engines by 30 to 50 per cent. The Petroleum Conservation Research Association has recommended the liquid for use in vehicles. Malik claims that "Feacksol" can improve the pick-up of vehicles and reduce noise pollution by about 70 per cent. The product has been launched in Gujarat and is all set to enter the market in south India. Vehicles require one milligram of "Feacksol" per litre of petrol to increase the mileage.
PURE WATER: Ace Hygiene Products, manufacturer of the water purifier, "Alfa", plans to launch its products in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Goa. The company has a market share of 11 per cent in the Rs 100 crore water purifier market. Officials say the company will target four kinds of consumers: industrial, domestic, institutional and retail. The product is made up of stainless steel and complies with the World Health Organisation standards.
CHEAPER EGGS: C&M Hy-Line Farms Pvt Ltd, a joint venture between C&M group of Nasik and Hy-Line International of the US, has launched the W-36 variety of layer bird in Hyderabad recently. Elias M D'Souza, chairperson of the company says that the W-36 variety of layer was selected for the Indian market keeping in mind the tropical climatic conditions, capabilities of the farmers and requirements of the consumers. Increasing W-36 variety of layer is economical as the bird consumes nearly 20 per cent less feed than others and lays over 300 eggs till it attains 72 weeks of age.
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