SC for more data on GM mustard

Supreme Court of India image

The SC on Monday asked the government to stop itself from embarking on any project on, or commercial release of, genetically modified (GM) mustard.

A Bench of CJI J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud said an injunction order would be passed if it was found that GM mustard affected health and life for generations. An injunction is an order issued by a court that forces the defendant––a person, corporation or government entity––to do something or stop doing something, depending on what the plaintiff is requesting.

The court agreed with Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s suggestion to get more information on GM mustard by July 28 to address the apprehensions raised by the court and petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, on the after-effects of GM mustard.

The court scheduled the case for hearing on July 31.

About GM-mustard and related apprehensions:

Image: SC for more data on GM mustard

Last year, a team of scientists at Delhi University led by former vice-chancellor Deepak Pental bred DMH-11, a genetically modified (GM) mustard hybrid. This GM mustard is expected to give 25-30% more yield than the best varieties such as “Varuna” currently grown in the country.

This development is crucial from India’s point of view as the country, in 2014-15, imported 14.5 million tonnes of edible oil valued at $ 10.5 billion; the import included 0.4 million tonnes of rapeseed oil, which many traders and processors are blending with indigenous mustard oil. The use of this genetically modified mustard crop is expected to boost indigenous production and hence cut down India’s reliance on imports.

The apprehensions against GM-mustard are:

·         There are no comprehensive scientific records of its safety and hazards on humans and environment and hence in the long run, the after-effects of GM mustard crops can be detrimental to human beings, environment and soil.

·         Many argue that GM in itself is a failed technology. Recently, Bihar CM told PM Narendra Modi that Bt-cotton which had been cultivated in the country for 15 years now demonstrated amply that GM was a failed technology. “Bollworm, a cotton pest for which GM technology was brought in for pest control has developed resistance against the Bt-cotton and is able to survive and has wreaked havoc on Bt-cotton crop. Thousands of farmers have incurred losses in the country due to this.

·         Regulatory framework for GM crops in India has various shortcomings. Due tests and regulations are not being properly followed while examining the reliability of any GM crops. GM mustard, allegedly, was given approval by the regulatory authority with proper field trials and other tests.

 

 

Reference(s):

The Hindu Newspaper (You can download the newspaper for free from a link given on this fb page – UPSC Aspirants Forum)

Spanish scientists develop ‘anti-Zika drug’

Image: Spanish scientists develop anti-Zika drug
Image Source: NBC Right Now

Researchers from a south-eastern Spanish university announced the discovery of a molecule that could be used as a potential drug to fight the effects of a Zika virus infection.

Scientists of the San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia have found that a compound previously used as an anti-biotic countered the symptoms of the mosquito-borne diseases.

The compound, known as ‘novobiocin’, had phenomenal results when given to a mice: a 100% cure rate. The only pending task is to figure out the exact dose needed for humans to achieve the same successful outcome.

A member of the research team pointed out that it’s a drug that had been withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic. It was earlier prescribed to fend off “nosocomial” infections (those required inside a hospital).

ABOUT ZIKA VIRUS DISEASE:

Image: About Zika virus disease
Image Source: City of Bowie

Zika virus disease is caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus. Aedes mosquitoes usually bite during the day. This is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is also possible.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a public health emergency for Zika virus. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.

Signs and Symptoms:

Image: Signs and Symptoms of Zika Virus disease

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days. The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.

Complications of Zika virus disease:

WHO has concluded that Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of congenital brain abnormalities, including microcephaly; and that Zika virus is a trigger of Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Diagnosis:

Infection with Zika virus may be suspected based on symptoms and recent history of travel (e.g. residence in or travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission). A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.

Treatment:

Zika virus disease is usually mild and requires no specific treatment. People sick with Zika virus should get plenty of rest, drink enough fluids, and treat pain and fever with common medicines. If symptoms worsen, they should seek medical care and advice. THERE IS CURRENTLY NO VACCINE AVAILABLE.

 

 

Reference(s):

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/

The Hindu Newspaper (You can download ‘The Hindu’ newspaper for free from UPSC Aspirants Forum – a Facebook page)

http://www.mid-day.com/articles/spanish-scientists-discover-potential-anti-zika-drug-international-news/18446154