Published: Saturday 15 January 2005

Environmentalists and commercial fishers in Tasmania, Australia have welcomed a recent ban on net fishing at night. This activity of recreational fishers was deemed harmful for birds and marine mammals.

Timber giant Gunns Limited has filed a US $4.8 million lawsuit against Australian environmentalists and legislators for conducting protest campaigns that damaged its business. The case was lodged in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

A bird flu outbreak has been reported in Mataram, Indonesia. Nearly 43 per cent poultry in 10 of the city's 23 subdistricts has been infected. No case of human infection has been reported.

In January 2005, five officials of the US mining giant Newmont will face a pollution trial in Indonesia. The move disregards warnings that it will impede foreign investment (see Down To Earth, 'In bad taste', October 31, 2004,).

Twelve South American nations recently signed a pact to create the "South American Community of Nations", a political and economic bloc on the lines of the EU (see Down To Earth, 'South America unites', December 15, 2004,). The grouping is likely to increase their bargaining power in global trade negotiations.

Two India-made anti-AIDS drugs have been reinstated on the World Health Organisation's "prequlification list". They were delisted on grounds of flaws in laboratory tests proving their efficacy (see Down To Earth, 'Drug pull out', December 15, 2004,).

A new EU directive that becomes effective from July 2006 bans the use of lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous materials for soldering in the electronics industry. It is expected to have a huge impact.

The UN World Food Programme has said it will have to stop food distribution among 140,000 Azerbaijanis, displaced in a conflict with Armenia a decade ago, from next month due to lack of funds to the tune of US $10 million.

The National Aids Research Institute, Pune, has said it will soon conduct India's first human trial of an HIV vaccine. The vaccine will target sub-type C of the HIV virus, the most common in India.

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