Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

WORTHY WASTES: Recycling being the latest mantra in environment circles, the Indian Rare Earths factory in Alwaye, Kerala has taken up the chant in its turn. Wastes from the factory, comprising of 'garnet sand', a byproduct of processing Kerala's beach sands to extract thorium, are being converted into synthetic granite -- a better alternative to its natural cousin -- at the Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute in Calcutta. The technology involves mixing garnet sand with special additives, compressing it, sintering it under 1,100 degrees centigrade and polishing the end product to get a replica of natural granite.

BARE-ALL PIONEERS: Biogen, a Massachusetts-based company has requested pan- European approval for Avonex, a multiple schlerosis drug, from the newly formed European Medicines Evaluation Agency, launched as a part of the EU's single market policy. Biogen has created history of sorts by volunteering an official check-up of its products. Usually, drug companies license their products to pharmaceutical concerns with existing sales forces. But Biogen is all set to launch its own sales network, and for that getting the approval of the Agency is vital.

OF NUTS AND PEANUTS: Diet freaks can go nuts about peanuts now. Researchers in the University of Florida have "invented" a brand of "better and healthier" peanuts -- the SunOleic 95R, which does not contain less fat, but offers a better mix. Some 80 per cent of its fatty acids are mono-unsaturated, compared to 50 per cent in a normal peanut. It is lower in polyunsaturated fats, has longer shelf life and helps lower cholesterol.

TAKEOVERS IN MEDICINE: Western drug companies are vying to get a toehold in the blossoming South African market. The 1st step has been taken by Glaxo Wellcome of UK and Eli Lilly of the US. They have jointly bought Medikrit, the dominant drugs prescriptions management business in South Africa. Medikrit, which has contracts with most of South Africa's retail pharmacies and registered private health schemes, provides a range of services including prescription collection, checking and auditing.

DYEING DELIGHTS: There is, apparently, more to vegetables than their nutritional contents. Realizing this, the Alps Industries Limited (of the Vista Levolor range of products fame) has, in research association with the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, embarked on a venture for making dyes with vegetable skins, fruit peels, seeds and tree barks. While a plant is being set up at Ghaziabad (UP) for the purpose, the company has already bagged export orders worth Rs 150 million. Considering the currently prevalent aversion to hazardous chemical dyes, vegetable dyes are here to stay.

SOURING THE GROUND: In yet another attempt to manufacture eco-friendly pesticides, the Bangalore-based Som Phytopharma (India) Ltd. is hoping to streamline production from September '95 at its Rs 17.65 crore neem-based pesticide project. The US and Japan have already expressed interest in this venture and want to import the neem extract called 'azadirectin'. The promotors will own a little over 50% of the equity base of the company and plan to raise the rest by tapping the market. Technical support and machinery will be provided by a Goa-based firm.

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