Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mutagenic crops Vs transgenic crops: Experts argue over the food safety

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With the Indian agriculture needing a fresh
infusion of biotechnology to improve the yields to meet the demand of
ever-growing population, farm experts find fault with the Central
government over its alleged double standards on “mutagenic” and
“transgenic” food crops.

The Central government has been promoting over two dozen food crops
developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre through “mutation
breeding” using radiation to alter the genetic make-up of plants.
While harmful radioisotopes like cobalt-60 is used to trigger genetic
changes in plants to provide them traits like high yield or resistance
to pests, a gene from a bacterium is used in case of “transgenic”
crops to achieve the same qualities.

“Mutagenic brinjal, whose genetic make-up has been changed using cobalt-60, has been in use in Indian markets for about three decades without any protests from any quarters”, said Dr David Spielman from
the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, USA.

Dr David is one of the many experts currently in the city to
participate in a two-day seminar on biotechnology in Indian
agriculture, being organised by the Centre for Economic and Social
Studies (CESS) from January 18. Prof Ronald J Herring of Cornell
University, New York, said “the experts at the seminar will look at
strong evidence on the impact of biotechnology on farming, crop
production, and income of farmers and the welfare of their families.
We will not simply debate whether the technology is good or bad, but
will come out with strong evidence to support the claims”.

Though the Centre allowed Bt cotton a decade ago, it withheld the
permission to release Bt brinjal for commercial consumption. This has
brought criticism from experts like Dr David and Prof Gregory Graf of
Colorado State University, USA. They argue that genetically engineered
food crops are as safe as any other foodstuff. About a dozen other
food crops including rice, maize and okra are under lab studies in the

Using induced mutations and cross breeding, the department of biotechnology has released 23 crop varieties for commercial cultivation. They include nine groundnut, 10 pulses, two mustard varieties, and one variety each of jute and rice. The mutagenic
groundnut variety (TAG-24) is cultivated in Andhra Pradesh and seven other States.

Dr David disapproved of the “story of catastrophe” of Bt cotton
growers, arguing that today over 1000 bt cotton hybrids are available
in India and a majority of farmers have been using them, leading to a
reduction of 50 per cent in use of chemical pesticides.

Micro-zonation earthquake map for Vijayawada city

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The Geological Survey of India is now busy preparing seismic hazard microzonation maps of Vijayawada to prevent loss to life and property in case an earthquake hits the city. Vijayawada is the only major place in Andhra Pradesh that falls under earthquake zone III. The rest of the State falls under seismic zone II, which is relatively safer.

Once the microzonation maps are ready, the Earthquake Geology Division of GSI will advise the municipal corporation about the areas in the city vulnerable to earthquake hazard, particularly high-rise buildings

The Vijayawada urban agglomeration has a population of over 17 lakh and as many as 22 seismic sources, mainly faults, in and around the city have been identified. The Gundlakamma fault is the major active fault in the vicinity.

The city has four types of soil with black cotton soils making up 58 per cent, sandy clay loams 23 per cent, red loamy soils 17 per cent and sandy soils 2 per cent. The microzonation maps to be prepared on a scale of 1: 10,000 to 5,000 metres will be useful for disaster management. Similar studies are proposed for other seismic areas like Ongole and Bhadrachalam.

As part of the seismic microzonation, the city is divided into subregions in which different safeguards must be utilised to reduce, and / or prevent damage, loss of life and societal disruptions during future earthquakes. The maps will also help to mitigate the effects of an earthquake by quickly determining source parameters and acquiring information about local geology and soil profile, topography, depth of
water table, characteristics of strong ground motions and their interaction with man-made structures.

According to senior geologist Prof SK Nath, earthquake disasters are inevitable but it is possible to minimise the aftermath of an earthquake if the zones that are more susceptible to undergo maximum ground motion are identified. Seismic microzonation helps in case of seismic hazards as it gives a realistic answer in terms of ground motion at a higher resolution.

Based on the earthquake maps, the city civic body may come out with specific design of buildings and structures, assess seismic risk to the existing structures and constructions, and guidelines on management of land use.

Bioaccumulation of radionuclides: Kudankulam nuclear power plant is safe

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The proposed Kudankulam nuclear power plant will
not affect the marine animals and human beings, who consume them.

Zoologists, who conducted studies on naturally occurring and man-made
radionuclides in the south Bay of Bengal for over five years, have now
concluded that the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam village will not
alter the marine ecology. It will also not influence the
bioaccumulation of radionuclides in sea animals including commercial
fish and molluscs.

The sea animals present near the site already contain natural radionuclides through bioaccumulation, and thus the radionuclides even if released from the Kudankulam plant cannot compete with and replace the natural ones.

Researchers from the department of advanced zoology and biotechnology,
Sadakathullah Appa College, Tirunelveli, and the department of zoology
and research centre, Scott Christian College, Nagercoil, conducted the
study on the radioisotopes of lead (Pb210) and polonium (Po210) in
marine waters, commercial fish and other sea animals in and around the
Kudankulam region.

“We selected the radioisotopes of lead and polonium because they are
the two most dominant contributors to radiation dose both in animals
and human beings through seafood intake. The bioaccumulation in marine
plants and animals was found to be within the permitted range fixed by
international agencies like IAEA and ICRP,” Dr M Feroz Khan of
Sadakathullah Appa College told this correspondent.

He clarified that even if there is a release of radionuclides into the
marine environment, the continuous dilution process will make the
levels low. The fallout (man-made) radionuclides cannot compete with
and replace the natural ones already bioaccumulated in the
animal/plant tissues.

“A comparative study of fallout cesium and natural polonium in fishes and their dose to human beings shows that there is a huge difference in the  bioccumulation of both radionuclides. There is no harmful impact now and there cannot be any in the future,” Dr Feroz pointed out.

The researchers also calculated the effective dose and carcinogenic
risk to humans consuming these species, but found that the “estimated
risk exerted no significant health hazard to humans.” The marine
organisms can also considered safe within international guidelines.

“Our study revealed that natural radiation level is higher, whereas
the fallout (human sources) radiation level is markedly less than
values reported internationally. Our data would be a baseline
pre-operational input, fulfilling the radio-ecological database and
will also be useful in the future impact assessment of the Kudankulam
nuclear power project after it becomes operational,” Dr Feroz added.

Radiation threat in Nagarjunasagar dam: Radionuclides and heavy metals present in the reservoir sediment and water make their way into the fish meat

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: In a major health concern for people, teams of
scientists funded by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Barc) have
noticed that the fish, caught from Nagarjunasagar dam and downstream
in the river Krishna, contain harmful radionuclides and heavy metals.

Nagarjunasagar reservoir produces as much as 90 tonnes of fish every
year and the catch is sold in Guntur, Nalgonda, Mahbubnagar, Ranga
Reddy, Hyderabad and Krishna districts.

The area abutting the reservoir contains long-lived radionuclides like uranium (U-238), thorium (Th-232) and Potassium (K-40), and heavy metals including zinc, cadmium and cobalt. The researchers found that the radionuclides and heavy metals present in the reservoir sediment and water have made their way into the fish meat.

Two different teams from the Centre for Environmental Nuclear
Research, SRM University, Chennai, Environmental Assessment Division,
Barc, Mumbai, and Environmental Survey Laboratory, Health Physics Division, Barc,
Kalpakkam, collected samples of fish sold in the markets around the
reservoir, and analysed them for presence of radionuclides and heavy

As part of the research, they selected commercially popular fish
species like Anguilla rostrata (eel), Cirrhinus mrigala (Indian carp),
Labeo rohita (rohu), and Labeo calbasu (a carp variety). “The
concentration of zinc in all the fish species was above the
permissible levels, while cadmium and cobalt were below detectable
level,” the researchers pointed out in their presentation at the just
concluded 99th session of the Indian Science Congress in Bhubaneswar.

Labeo rohita and Anguilla rostrata showed higher accumulation of cadmium than cobalt, while Labeo calbasu showed more quantities of cobalt than cadmium. The results showed that the heavy metal concentration was higher in the reservoir sediment, followed by fish and reservoir water.

Anguilla rostrata and Cirrhinus mrigala showed the presence of
radionuclides, which made their way into the reservoir from the
adjoining uranium deposits-enriched areas of Lambapur and Peddagattu.

The researchers evaluated the distribution pattern of environmental
pollution of uranium and thorium by determining their concentrations
in Nagarjunasagar sediment and water and from the two commercial
species of fish. The average uranium concentrations found in the
sediment sample was 281 Bq/Kg, whereas the concentration of the
uranium found in the water sample is of 2-3 micrograms per litre.
Based on them, they arrived at the bio-concentration factor and
distribution coefficient of the fishes in the dam.

Doctors find a new link between obesity and breast cancer in women

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Doctors have now found a new link between obesity
and breast cancer. Women, who are obese, are at a higher risk of
getting breast cancer, and as the weight goes up, the risk increases.

Cancer of breast is one of the common cancers in women and thus far,
there has been no medical study in India linking the cancer of breast
to higher body mass index. The doctors, who examined about 400 breast
cancer patients, noticed that even mid upper arm circumference is
associated with breast cancer.

Overweight and obese women have odds ratio of 1.06 as against 2.27 in women with normal weight. This in other words means obese women are twice at risk of breast cancer than women with normal weight.

A team of doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences found
that breast cancer patients had a “statistically higher mean weight,
body mass index, and mid upper arm circumference as compared to the
normal women, who were part of the research study.”
There is a strong association of overweight and obesity with breast
cancer in the Indian population.

”Obesity causes increase in the levels of fat tissue in the body that
can store toxins. These toxins may serve as a continuous source of
cancer. Since body fat is linked to endogenous estrogen production and
storage, it could increase the risk of breast cancer. Free estrogen
levels are in higher levels in obese women, particularly if the weight
is around the abdomen,” one of the researchers Dr Umesh Kapil pointed
out. The other members of the research team are Dr SN Dwivedi, Dr P
Singh, Dr SVS Deo and Dr NK Shukla.

Obese women also show increased levels of bioavailable estrogen fraction and this may cause the cancerous tumours to grow. Women with a body mass index of 25 to 29.0 are overweight and those above 30 BMI are obese.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Lead poisoning in children has assumed alarming proportions in the absence of a national policy fixing the maximum level of this heavy metal in the blood, says Dr Venkatesh Thuppil

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Lead poisoning in children has assumed alarming
proportions in the absence of a national policy fixing the maximum
level of this heavy metal in the blood.

In India, about 18 per cent of children show unacceptable level of
lead in their blood. Though the World Health Organisation has
prescribed the upper limit of blood lead level as 10 micrograms per
decilitre as “level of concern”, the Indian government seems to be
ignorant about this, Dr Venkatesh Thuppil, principal adviser, National
Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India, told this correspondent.

“Multiple studies establish the link between blood lead levels less
than 10 micrograms per decilitre in children and adverse health
effects, including cognitive impairment, and decreased cardiovascular
and renal function. There is innumerable scientific evidence of
adverse consequences for children with level of lead in the blood well
below the level of 10 microgram per decilitre,” Dr Venkatesh said
demanding that the Central government should immediately come out with
a national policy on lead levels in the blood of children.

He said the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India
conducted a study in which it was found that “over 18 per cent of
children had unacceptable level of lead in their blood causing
concern.” Neither the Health Ministry nor the Environmental Ministry
appears to be concerned about this, he regretted.

Stating that the effects of lead (childhood lead poisoning) appear to
be irreversible, he demanded that the Central and the State
governments should adopt a primary prevention strategy to emphasize
the prevention of lead exposure, rather than just respond to exposures
after they have already taken place.

Referring to the US decision to reduce the upper limit of lead level
in blood of children from 10 microgram per decilitre to 5 microgram
per decilitre, Dr Venkatesh said India should follow suit and regulate
lead in paints and other consumer products, and reduce lead emissions
from industries including lead battery manufacturing and recycling.

“Childhood lead poisoning is totally preventable. Lead poisoning
reduces IQ of children during growth and development and harms a
child's brain, kidneys and other organs,” he said.

He "reads" the minds of others in a flash of a second

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: It needs the “third eye” to read the minds of people, delve
into the past and predict their future. Mind wave consultant GNK
Ramesh has perfected the art of analyzing the brain energy through
what he calls the hidden “third eye” in him.

All one has to do to know his or her future is to tell Ramesh the full
name, running age, place of residence, and profession. Ramesh closes
his eyes and goes into a meditation mode with his “third eye”
activated. Within a minute, he tells you, your past, present status,
what lies in store ahead, and what is good or bad for you.

He answers questions ranging from investment to medical treatment,
from buying a car to importing goods or machinery, and from the
children’s education to professional growth or otherwise. And every
time, he does this, Ramesh goes into deep thinking with a bulge
appearing on his forehead. He calls this bulge as the hidden third
eye. One can get information about prospective business partners too
from him. The person need not be physically present before him. A few
personal details about any person anywhere in the world are suffice to
elicit information from this mind wave consultant.

“The “third eye” envisions what one cannot see with the normal eyes or
grasp what is hidden in the minds of others. I analyse the mind waves
and scan through the brain. In fact, I get into the minds of people
and everything related to the person concerned is flashed before me
within seconds. All I do is to just read it out,” says Ramesh.

His clients include film personalities, politicians, senior officials
and businesspersons. Since analyzing the minds of others needs huge
expenditure of energy, Ramesh says he gets easily tired. “I
concentrate all the energy into the invisible third eye. In the
process, I lose lot of my personal energy. This happens after every
consultation”, he observes explaining why he sees a limited number of
people daily.

Ramesh, however, desists from giving information about politics,
gambling, shares and speculative investments. “I started reading minds
more than two decades ago. Initially, my friends and acquaintances
approached me with issues like their resignations not accepted by
their bosses. I dictated them the content that should go in the
resignation letters and they were accepted,” he points out.

Analysis of the mind energy gives the accurate prediction in a number
of cases including a person’s suitability for surgery, improvement in
business, changes in vastu at office and house, compatibility of boy
and girl in case of marriage proposals, and change or otherwise in

Miracles of Ocimum sanctum: Tulsi or Indian basil is capable of fighting radiation impact

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The ancient Indian wisdom of growing Tulasi (Ocimum
sanctum) in the backyard is not without a scientific backing.
Researchers now reveal that the Indian holy basil wards off the ill
effects of radiation, whether background or nuclear. Tulasi also
protects the body cells in patients undergoing radiation therapy for
cancer cure.

Scientists at the DRDO’s Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied
Sciences, and the Department of Radiobiology, Kasturba Medical
College, Manipal, have successfully tested extract from Tulasi on
mouse models for its anti-radiation and anti-cancer properties. The
DRDO has gone a step further. It is busy preparing an herbal dose from
Tulasi to serve as both preventive and curative medicine.
Incidentally, the mouse models survived the radiation dose given to
them after they were fed with the Tulasi extract.

Those visiting high radiation areas in case of nuclear material leak can safely take the Tulasi preparation as a preventive measure against radiation risks. Even those exposed to high doses of radiation can take the Tulasi medicine to minimize the damage to the body organs. In
the mouse model there was no impact on bone marrow. It is the bone marrow, which is hit in case of radiation exposure, and this brings down the immunity level.

DRDO proposes to take up human trials after the mouse model has given
wonderful results, points out Dr W Selvamurthy, chief controller
(research and development), DRDO. He presented a research paper on the
anti-radiation impact of Tulasi extract at the 99th Indian Science
Congress, which concluded in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

“We need to conduct a few more tests and take up phase II trials
before it is released for general use,” said Dr Selvamurthy. The DRDO
is spending Rs 7 crore on the Tulasi project.

Research on animals on the anti-radiation effect of Tulasi has been going on in India for the last four decades. Doctors at Kasturba Medical College have earlier found that Tulasi contains special chemicals called glutathione, which gives it the anti-cancer and anti-radiation properties. According to eminent radiobiologist Prof P Uma Devi, “the enzymes present in Ocimum herb including glutathione transferase, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase,  superoxidase dismutate and lipid peroxide help in bringing down the radiation influence the body.

Indian researchers in several animal models have noticed that Tulasi
protects mutations and chromosomal aberrations in persons exposed to
nuclear radiation. The free radicals present in the Ocimum extract eat
away (scavenge) the radio nuclei and thus prevent genetic damage.

Cases of dengue-chikungunya co-infection are on the rise causing concern to health planners and doctors

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Cases of dengue-chikungunya co-infection are on the
rise causing concern to health planners and doctors. About three per
cent of dengue-chikungunya cases fall under the co-infection category
i.e. patient suffering from both the diseases at the same time.

Incidentally, mosquito, Aedes aegypti, transmits dengue and
chikungunya and the chances of co-infection are higher if the mosquito
carries the viruses of both the diseases. A detailed analysis of
dengue and chikungunya cases by the department of microbiology, Sri
Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences, Tirupati, has revealed
that the problem of co-infection is more pronounced in areas where
both viruses co-circulate.

In case of co-infection, doctors find it hard to diagnose the problem. Though symptoms of these diseases are common, their outcome differs. Tests for both dengue and chikungunya will help in finding whether a patient is suffering from one disease or two.

Chikungunya is nonfatal while dengue may lead to severe health
complications including death. The common symptoms of both the
diseases include fever, joint and bone pain, nausea, vomiting,
headache, and fatigue.

A team of researchers comprising Usha Kalawat, Krishna K Sharma and G
Satishkumar Reddy analysed 331 samples for dengue and 170 samples for
chikungunya. About 12 per cent of dengue samples and 20 per cent of
chikungunya samples were positive

About 72 samples were tested for the presence of both dengue and chikungunya antibodies. Around three per cent of the samples tested positive for both the diseases.
“The chikungunya virus affected areas overlap with dengue
fever-endemic areas and provide opportunities for mosquitoes to become
infected with both the viruses,” they pointed out, adding that missing
of one is always plausible if diagnostic tests for both are not
performed and the presence of one does not rule out the other.

Dr Anil Kakodkar says India needs to generate 5000 kWh per capita electricity to achieve human index of 1

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  Eminent nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar has said only nuclear
energy would help India achieve the target of 5000 kWh per capita consumption
of electricity that would push the country on the human development index of 1.

“The per capita electricity consumption in the country at present is 10 times less than the target of 5000 kwh. We thus need to generate 10 times more power and this is possible only through nuclear and solar energy. This is a huge task and we can achieve this by 2050. If we reach the per capita of 5000 kWh, India will reach the human development index closer to 1,” Dr Kakodkar said.

Addressing Dr M Channa Reddy Memorial Lecture here on January 5, Dr Kakodkar,
who earlier served as the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, said
electricity constitutes a key input for enhancing quality of life in
society. “Indian population is expected to stabilize at around 1.6
billion. Thus to support a reasonable quality of life for our people,
we need 800 TWh (terawatt hour) annually. This would need a generation
capacity of around 1400 GWe (gigawatt electric). The additional
electricity that we would need to generate would be around 40 per cent
of current electricity generation worldwide,” he added.

He regretted that the per capita consumption of electricity in the
country is four times below the world average. “If the consumption in
developed nations is not taken into account, even then we would be two
times below the average of developing nations. China is marching
forward in meeting the energy needs through nuclear sources,” he
pointed out.

Projecting thorium and solar energy as the two major sources of
electricity to meet the future needs of the country, Dr Kakodkar said
adding that nuclear capacity augmentation is thus important both for
more electricity production and for enhanced capacity of conversion of
Thorium into nuclear fuel.

“Now that embargoes on Indian nuclear programme have eased out, we can
in fact speed up this process. This would help over come immediate
electricity shortages and also enable earlier deployment of thorium on
a largescale,” Dr Kakodkar observed.

Giving the example of the new Indian concept reactor AHWR 300-LEU, he
said nuclear power plants are safe and advanced nuclear technology has
helped in making them more secure from external and internal sabotage.

The magic of sesame seeds: Til chikkies fight human immunodeficiency virus; increase CD4 count by 50 in four months

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: It is hard to resist the unique taste of sesame chikkies,
and many generations of children have grown up chewing little chunks
of this special Indian sweet. But no one has ever thought that the
humble sesame chikkies will help in fighting the dreaded Human
Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV the natural way, without causing any
side effects.

Realising the health benefits of this simple Indian street
preparation, nutritionists have slightly altered the recipe by adding
a few Ayurvedic herbs and served them to HIV positive women. They
found that the chikkies have not only improved the CD4 (immune) cells
count in people living with HIV, but also improved their overall
nutrition levels and health condition.

Researchers prepared chikkies using sesame and jaggery. They also added half a dozen Ayurvedic herbs to give them the herbal touch.
Sesame-jaggery chikkies are quite popular in South India, and they are
known as jeedilu in rural parts of Andhra Pradesh.
A group of women living with HIV and not taking anti-retroviral
therapy (ART) was selected for the research. They were given 20 grams
of chikkies twice a day for four months. At the end of the study, the
HIV positive women showed improved immunity levels. The team prepared
chikkies by adding Spirulina for children living with HIV.

“The CD4 count increased from 475.6 to 543.4 cells in the women who took the sesame chikkies. Those who did not take the preparation showed decreased CD4 count. It went down from 612.3 to 541.5."

"About 25 to 33 per cent of HIV positive people experience either short or
long-term side effects while using anti-retroviral therapy. Our novel
therapeutic strategy of including a few Ayurvedic herbs in the popular
street food (chikkies) has helped in fighting HIV the natural way,
without any side effects,” said Dr R Gandhimathy, assistant professor
in the postgraduate department of human nutrition and nutraceuticals,
Fatima (Autonomous) College, Madurai Kamaraj University. The Madurai
team gave a presentation of its research finding at the National
Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad recently.
AIDS is a disease complex characterised by a collapse of the body
natural immunity to fight infections. The two main components of
chikkies – sesame and jaggery – are known to increase the immunity
levels in human beings.

The time-tested advantage of Ayurveda has
further fortified the chikkies making them a sort of natural medicine to fight HIV and improve the CD4 cell count.

“We have statistically proved that supplementation of functional foods
incorporated chikkies showed a significant improvement of CD4 cells
count. The Ayurveda herbs we used are Tenospora cordifolia, Terminalia
chetappa, Tribulus terrestris, Achyranthes aspera, snake gourd and
rice bran,” Dr Gandhimathy added.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Food adulteration: Milk sold in India is unsafe: Large samples found adulterated: Detergent is mixed with milk to give it `thickness'

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has conducted sample survey of the quality of milk sold in different parts of the country. To its utter shock it found a majority of the samples contain adulterants including detergent.

 The FSSAI study indicates that addition of water to milk is most common adulterant. Addition of water not only reduces the nutritional value of milk but contaminated water may also pose health risk to the consumers. It also shows that powdered milk is reconstituted to meet the demand of milk supply. All state /UT enforcement authorities may specifically check whether the declaration of new FSSAI rules are being complied to. The study also indicated the presence of detergent in some cases. Consumption of milk with detergent may cause health hazards and indicates lack of hygiene and sanitation in the milk handling.
The National Survey on Milk Adulteration 2011 (snap shot survey) was conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India to ascertain the quality of milk and identify different type of adulteration in the liquid milk throughout the country.

The samples were collected randomly and analysed from 33 states - Andhra Pradesh (75), Arunachal Pradesh (25), Assam (109), Bihar (75), Chhattisgarh (19), Chandigarh (25), Delhi (71), Dadra & Nagar Haveli (12), Daman & Diu (25), Goa (24), Gujarat (100), Haryana (109), Himachal Pradesh (27), Jammu & Kashmir (18), Jharkhand (25), Karnataka (51), Kerala (50), Madhya Pradesh (61), Maharashtra (126), Manipur (25), Mizoram (25), Meghalaya (26), Nagaland (22), Orissa (50), Puducherry (25), Punjab (109), Rajasthan (103), Sikkim (18), Tamil Nadu (74), Tripura (25), Uttarakhand (26), Uttar Pradesh (136), West Bengal (100) totalling to a sample size of 1791.

The total conforming samples to the FSSA standards were 565 (31.5%). The total non-conforming samples were found to be 1226 (68.4%). The non-conformity of samples in rural areas were 381(31%) out of which 64 (16.7%) were packet samples and 317 (83.2%) were loose samples respectively and in urban area the total non confirming samples were 845 (68.9%) out of which 282 (33.3%) were packed and 563 (66.6%) were loose samples.

The deviation were found highest for fat (%) and SNF (%) in 574 samples (46.8%) of the total non –conformity . Perhaps the reason may be dilution of milk with water. The second highest parameter of non conformity was the Skim Milk Powder (SMP) in 548 samples (44.69%) which includes presence of glucose in 477 samples. Glucose would have been added to milk probably to enhance SNF. The presence of Skim Milk Powder indicates the reconstitution of milk powder.

 Detergent was also found in 103 samples (8.4%).
The non-conforming sample in the descending order of percentage with respect to the total sample collected in different states were as follows: Bihar (100%), Chhattisgarh (100%), Daman and Diu (100%), Jharkhand (100%), Orissa (100%), West Bengal (100%), Mizoram (!00%), Manipur (96%), Meghalaya (96%), Tripura (92%), Gujarat (89%), Sikkim (89%), Uttrakhand (88%), Uttar Pradesh (88%), Nagaland (86%), Jammu & Kashmir (83%), Punjab (81%), Rajasthan (76%) Delhi (70%), Haryana (70%), Arunachal Pradesh (68%), Maharashtra (65%), Himachal (59%), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (58%), Assam (55%), Chandigarh (48%), Madhya Pradesh (48%), Kerala (28%), Karnataka (22%), Tamil Nadu (12%), and Andhra Pradesh (6.7%).

All the sample in Goa and Puducherry conformed to the standards.

India has one of the highest death rates among teenagers and scientists have always wondered why this is so: Now a team of city scientists will take up a first-of-its-kind research study to understand the secrets of young minds, the complex psychology of teenagers in India

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: India has one of the highest death rates among teenagers and scientists have always wondered why this is so. Now a team of city scientists will take up a first-of-its-kind research study to understand the secrets of young minds, the complex psychology of teenagers in India and the suicidal tendencies in them. The research will help in unraveling the scientific mystery of a very high incident of death rate including suicides among adolescents in the country.
The death rates for teenagers in India are amongst the highest in the world, and little research has been done to find out why this is and how to provide appropriate healthcare for adolescents. Teenagers make up a significant proportion of India’s population.
 As teenagers age their health status is vitally important, since its impact is enormous on the economic growth and health systems. The information currently available on the health landscape of young adolescent Indians is quite meagre.

The city-based George Institute for Global Health in collaboration with the Centre for Chronic Disease Control, New Delhi, will cover a million Indian teenagers over a period of time for a proper understanding of the cause of death. “The study will strive to provide health policy makers with precise and reliable information about the
distribution of chronic diseases and injuries among the adolescent population. It will also help to reliably identify major risk and protective factors relating to mental disorders, injuries, cardiac illnesses like increased blood pressure, diabetes and obesity,” said Dr Pallab Maulik, head of research and development, George Institute
for Global Health, India.

According to him, among India’s adolescents, comprising almost one-quarter of the country’s population, mental illness and injuries are two major health problems. India has one of the highest suicide rates in the world amongst teenagers. A study revealed that the suicide rate among 10-19 year olds was 148 and 58 per lakh people for females and males respectively.

Death among teenagers due to road traffic injuries is also high in the country. In addition, many of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes start in this age group. “There are many unanswered questions for the adolescents which need to be worked upon,” Dr Pallab added.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Monsoon predictability is turning tougher for the weatherman year after year as rainfall goes erratic thanks to climate change, admit agro-climate experts

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Monsoon predictability is turning tougher for the
weatherman year after year as rainfall goes erratic thanks to climate
change, admit city agro-climate experts.

Research by the city-based International Crops Research Institute in
Semi Arid Tropics (Icrisat) and Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural
University show that certain areas are gradually turning arid from
semi arid while other areas are receiving intensely heavy rainfall.

The monsoon has changed its regular pattern and has become highlynon-predictive, making the task of the weatherman even tougher.

“We are unable to predict the monsoon variability. The monsoon
prediction for the country overall may be near accurate, but as far as
local level prediction is concerned, the weatherman quite often fails
in the task. The monsoon for India was near accurate, but in Andhra
Pradesh and other places it was about 40 per cent deficient while some
States witnessed floods,” said Dr AVR Kesava Rao, agro-climate expert
and scientist at Icrisat.

Stating that the climate change is showing its telltale marks in the
form of erratic monsoons, Dr Kesava Rao said the non-predictability of
the monsoon ranged from non-uniform rainfall over a larger area to
year-to-year variability, with one year receiving good rainfall, and
another witnessing drought conditions.

“The heavy rainfall events have increased in the recent times. Though
the number of rainy days has not come down, the number of high
intensity rains has gone up. This is leading to soil erosion and poor
infiltration of rain water into the water table,” he added.

Research data from Icrisat’s watershed in Nemmikal village near Suryapet revealed that the length of growing period has been shortened by 15 days. Icrisat analysed the data since 1971 and found that there is increase in the dryness of the local climate.

 The monsoon, he said has lost its uniformity and areas within a district experience either
intense rainfall or drought conditions.

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This Day In History

Mother's Care

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Minnu The Cat & Her Kittens Brownie, Goldie & Blackie

Someone with Nature

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Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

Under the shade of Baobab tree

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At Agha Khan Akademi in Kenya

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Gateway to the Southern Hemisphere

Convention on Biodiversity

Convention on Biodiversity
Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity