Posted tagged ‘politics’

GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

April 21, 2012

GETTING PHARMACEUTICALS TO WORLD’S POOR VIA NEW FUNDING MODELS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Getting pharmaceuticals to the world’s poor is verily a tough task to do. Certain emerging markets such as those of Asia’s have mature and well developed pharmaceutical industries, yet too many poor folks can’t afford to pay for their own medical drug needs.

One opinion says new funding models may need be crafted to get such drugs to the world’s poor. This opinion is highly debatable, as the case has been shown in PH, India, and China that responded to the problem of access to drugs via generics drugs policy and the institutionalization of traditional & alternative medicine.

At any rate, let those who espouse the idea of new funding models proceed with the enactment of their concept. “New funding model” could at best be attractive to Big Business owners who operate Big Foundations that would fund those access challenges, and there we go again recycling the same old problem of oligarchism as barrier to people’s access to medicines.

[Philippines, 14 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/access-to-medicine/opinions/use-new-funding-models-to-get-drugs-to-world-s-poor-.html
Use new funding models to get drugs to world’s poor
Daniele Dionisio
5 April 2012 | EN
Trade deals are threatening generic drugs — we need new ways to incentivise affordable drug development, says health expert Daniele Dionisio.
Just under three billion people live on less than US$2 per day, in resource-limited countries where key medicines protected by patents are unaffordable.
Free-trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, and governments adopting intellectual property (IP) policies that favour the brand pharmaceutical sector are also threatening the trade of legitimate generic medicines.
In addition, India’s obligations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) prevent local companies from making generics for medicines introduced since 2005. Despite the country’s recent decision forcing a drug manufacturer to license a generic cancer drug[1], these developments threaten the supply of generic medicines from India that serve as a lifeline to resource-limited countries.
To ensure long-term access to medicines, the WHO has called for operational models to finance research and development (R&D) for diseases of the poor. [2] But any one model will not be enough to ensure the availability of life-saving drugs.
Pooling resources
The WHO’s models include direct grants, equitable licensing, pooled funds, prizes and patent pools, collectively called ‘best fitting’ models. They also include ‘less well fitting’ models such as priority review vouchers and a health impact fund.
With direct grants, for example, small- and medium-sized companies in developing countries are given funds to develop a product to the stage where they can more easily find other funders to take it to later stages of development.
Equitable licensing aims to ensure that medicines arising from public funding are licensed to make them affordable to the poor. Pooled funds aim to provide, on a long-term basis, funding to research organisations from sources including taxes or bonds. And prizes are rewards for developing a product or for completing a step in the R&D process.
As part of these recommendations, the WHO strongly insists that patent pools are established, where a number of patents by differ¬ent owners are brought together and made available on a nonexclusive basis to generic companies.
The Medicines Patent Pool (or the Pool), is a major commitment to implementing this idea. Founded and financed by UNITAID and backed by the WHO, UNAIDS, the Global Fund, and the Group of 8, the Pool is focusing on cutting-edge antiretrovirals (ARVs) for HIV.
The Pool seeks to negotiate with patent holders for voluntary licences (VLs) on their ARV patents against the payment of royalties. Expected benefits include increased competition and affordable prices for generic ARVs licensed through the Pool. [3]
A need for universal buy-in
The Pool has signed two VLs with Gilead Sciences and the US National Institutes of Health, and is in talks with Boehringer-Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Sequoia Pharmaceuticals and ViiV Healthcare (a joint venture of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer). Meanwhile, generic companies have begun to take licences from it.
However, Merck and Abbott are not currently in negotiation with the Pool. And in December 2011 Johnson & Johnson said it would not license patents of its breakthrough ARVs for use through the Pool.
This is concerning because the participation of these companies in the Pool is necessary for generic companies to deliver appropriate ARVs formulations.
And it serves as a caution that, despite its promises and successes, the Pool is unlikely to be a self-sufficient solution — and this applies equally to all other models for financing drug R&D.
Towards a transaction tax
A combination of two or more models will be needed to ensure that the outputs of R&D, innovation and access are available without restrictions. To achieve that goal, all models should complement current IP regimes and include partnerships, open source and needs-driven rather than market-driven rules.
Product development partnerships (PDPs) meet these requirements. They provide a framework for cooperation between the public sector (governments, academic and research institutions) and the private sector (companies, nongovernmental organisations and philanthropic organisations).
PDPs already established include partnerships between the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) and companies Sanofi Aventis and Farmanguinhos/Fiocruz — which have produced innovative antimalarial products.
Similarly, a partnership between DNDi and Merck aims to roll out medicines for leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, and the TB Alliance has teamed up with Johnson & Johnson to develop new tuberculosis drugs.
PDPs enable both industry and governments to do what they could not alone. And their sustainability would be enhanced if governments financed them more effectively.
The foundation of all viable models is sustainable financing mechanisms, and we must find innovative funding sources.
A financial transaction tax (FTT), which aims to support development and health needs, is now under international debate, and has been endorsed by the EU Commission. A 0.05-per cent tax on all financial market transactions could raise €209 billion (US$273 billion) a year in the EU alone and would be sufficient to finance development priorities in the region and internationally. [4]
The FTT should be introduced, enforced and implemented worldwide. It would be instrumental, alongside the models proposed by the WHO, to promoting R&D to develop medicines for diseases of the poor.
Daniele Dionisio is head of the research project Geopolitics, Public Health and Access to Medicines (GESPAM); a member of the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases; and an advisor for the Italian Society for Infectious and Tropical Diseases (SIMIT). He can be contacted at d.dionisio@tiscali.it
References
[1] Bayer loses drug ruling in India (The Wall Street Journal, 2012)

[2] Draft WHO HIV strategy 2011–2015 (WHO, 2011)
[3] WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS. The Progress report 2011: Global HIV/AIDS response (WHO, 2011)
[4] MEPs adopt report on EU-wide financial transaction tax (Parliament Magazine, 2011)
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?

April 17, 2012

LOWERING HIV RISK FOR SEX WORKERS, ANYONE?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is there any enthused soul out there who may have some bright ideas about strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers?

A grim ripper of a research shows the very high levels of HIV risks on sex workers. This research was done across the continents, involving 100,000 female sex workers across 50 developing countries, cross-analyzing 102 previous studies for that matter. The results show a truly grim situation for the HIV/AIDS front, with the sex workers serving as a focused vector of the ailment.

Let’s all face the fact: AIDS/HIV will be with us for some time yet, so no matter what heroic efforts are being done to stave off the pandemic it will wreak havoc on all societies and populations for some time. Unless, of course, that the context will radically change into a global situation where HIV will die out naturally such as the Earth’s sustained immersion in the photonic belt of the galaxy.

Below is a discussion of the said cross-analytic studies.

[Philippines, 12 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/hiv-aids/news/study-notes-strategies-to-lower-hiv-risk-for-sex-workers-.html
Study notes strategies to lower HIV risk for sex workers
Helen Mendes
4 April 2012 | EN
Female sex workers in low- and middle-income countries are nearly 14 times more likely to become infected with HIV than other women in these countries, according to a literature review by US scientists.
The review was carried out by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal (15 March).
The authors analysed 102 previous studies representing almost 100,000 female sex workers in 50 developing countries. They found that in Asia, sex workers were 29 per cent more likely to be infected than other women in the region. In Africa and Latin America, sex workers were 12 times more likely to be infected than other women – and India, the female sex worker community was at a massive 50-fold higher risk of HIV infection than the rest of the country’s female population.
India, along with Kenya and Brazil have, however, made some inroads into reducing infection levels among sex workers.
“We believe that these examples represent countries adopting necessary approaches,” said Stefan Baral, the study’s lead author.
Brazil’s National STD/AIDS Programme works closely with sex workers to prevent new HIV infections. As well as running campaigns to promote prevention, Brazil offers free antiretroviral treatment.
“Because of their vulnerability, sex workers are a priority group, and we have projects specifically for them,” Juny Kraiczyk of the Brazilian Ministry of Health told SciDev.Net.
“We act to strengthen sex workers’ networks” and this involves “programmes of peer education and prevention in prostitution areas,” he said, adding that such strategies had also helped reduce the stigma associated with the disease that would otherwise discourage women from coming forward for testing and treatment.
This need to destigmatise HIV infection led to Brazil turning down a US$40-million grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2005 because it included a clause condemning prostitution.
“We work under the principle of not criminalising prostitution. We see these people as vulnerable, and not to be blamed for their increased risk. There are [other] factors, such as discrimination and poverty, which result in higher vulnerability for them,” explained Kraiczyk.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases study found that in India, the country’s Avahan and Sonagachi programmes have successfully tackled a range of structural challenges, through community empowerment, campaigns to address stigma, and the targeting of high-risk sexual practices with prevention messages.
“The disproportionate burden of HIV among sex workers … emphasises the need to increase coverage by increasing scale of prevention programmes and decreasing barriers to access,” the study stated.
India is making the Avahan programme, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a national initiative.
“Avahan has shared its approaches, tools, methods and strategies with the government, and many aspects have been incorporated into the national programme,” Shelley Thakral, communications officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in India, told SciDev.Net.
Link to abstract
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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X-RAY BENEFITS ON PLANT MICRO-NUTRIENT ANALYSIS

April 14, 2012

X-RAY BENEFITS ON PLANT MICRO-NUTRIENT ANALYSIS
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good afternoon from Manila!

Here’s a good news concerning XRay benefits on plant micro-nutrient analysis coming from Africa. Researchers in Rwanda are very particular about the potential benefits of XRay applications, so this development adds more points towards brightening the image of Rwanda as its old ethnic violence and purges must be expunged with good news.

Not only can XRay determine to the minutest details the micro-nutrient composition of plants, eg. mineral content of leaves, beans, fruits, etc. XRay application, as it was found out, could induce growth of plants as a whole, leading the increase in the micro-nutrients available in them.

The gladdening news is shown below.

[Philippines, 07 April 2012]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/nutrition/news/x-ray-technology-harnessed-to-grow-more-nutritious-crops.html
X-ray technology harnessed to grow more nutritious crops
Aimable Twahirwa
5 April 2012 | EN | ES
[KIGALI] Agricultural researchers in Rwanda have adapted a technology widely used in the mining sector to analyse the mineral content of food crops such as beans and maize, with a view to developing more nutritious crops.
The team, from the Rwandan Agricultural Board (RAB), say the idea was inspired by a study published in the journal Plant and Soil earlier this year (21 January), which noted the use of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis to determine the mineral content of soil samples.
XRF analysis generates X-rays of different colours to indicate the presence, and concentration, of elements such as iron and zinc. It is quick to display results, and each sample costs just 15 US cents to analyse – compared to US$20 for other chemical analysis technologies.
In Rwanda, beans are regarded as a near-perfect food as they contain many important nutrients, and between 22 to 30 per cent of arable land across the country is currently used to grow them, according to the RAB.
The Rwandan team used XRF to analyse three varieties of bio-fortified beans – climbing, bush and snap beans. They analysed 15 samples in total, and found four were particularly rich in mineral nutrients such as iron and zinc, according to Augustine Musoni, a senior researcher at the RAB.
“This is a step forward in [reducing] malnutrition while improving the lives of smallholder farmers,” Musoni told SciDev.Net.
Iron deficiency in food crops can inhibit physical and mental development in children, and increase the risk of women dying in childbirth, Musoni added.
The Plant and Soil study was funded by HarvestPlus, which is part of the Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health programme of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
HarvestPlus has formed partnerships with research institutes in Bangladesh, Mexico and India to make further use of the technology in crops like rice and pearl millet. It has set up XRF facilities in these institutes and trained local scientists to use them..
The main purpose of the new technology according to Tiwirai Lister Katsvairo, the Rwanda country representative for HarvestPlus, is to deliver nutritious staple food crops to reduce “hidden hunger” — the lack of dietary vitamins and minerals, adding that more than half of Rwanda’s children under five, and a third of the female population, are anaemic.
Daphrose Gahakwa, deputy director-general of the RAB said that XRF technology would be a beneficial method of testing mineral content in seeds. The challenge in delivering this innovation, she said, was how to deliver those benefits to remote areas of the country.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

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BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

April 12, 2012

BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Birds flu struck the world as a pandemic just a few years back, creating fright night panic in some key cities over incoming overseas visitors that are afflicted with the ailment. Indonesia is among those countries hit hard in terms of transmission of the birds flu, and so the Indonesian case could be examined to rethink the health problem at hand.

What makes the birds flu hazard truly alarming is that over 80% of those afflicted die of the disease. It now seems that, on hindsight, the lack of scientific openness had inflated the destructive reach and impact of the bird flu pandemic.

There is over-consciousness about intellectual property piracy of course, which accounts for the behavior of self-constraint among research scientists. How far can that wall of secrecy be loosened up to effect a cross-border clamp down of the bird flu virus?

Below is an interesting reportage about the subject.

[Philippines, 03 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/bird-flu/editorials/tackling-bird-flu-effectively-needs-scientific-openness-1.html
Tackling bird flu effectively needs scientific openness
David Dickson
2 March 2012
Efforts to limit publication of controversial bird flu research could end up doing more harm than good.
Last week, a 12-year-old boy in Indonesia died after becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus. His death brought the global death toll to 347 since the disease was first reported among humans in 2005.
At first sight the figure does not look too alarming compared to the many millions that die from other infectious diseases. And although the virus is usually fatal — up to 80 per cent of those infected die from it — the overall incidence of human infection remains relatively low.
This is because most people only get infected through contact with infected poultry. But what if the virus could spread between humans?
This spectre has now been raised by two teams of scientists, working at a medical centre in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, respectively. Each team genetically altered the virus into a form that can pass between ferrets through the air — implying that a similar strain could evolve (or be created) that could spread between humans.
The consequences could be so disastrous that last year, a US body set up in 2005 to look at the potential biosecurity risks of laboratory-created organisms recommended that papers on the work submitted to the world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, should not be published in full.
The argument of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was that the information could be used by terrorist groups or individuals to produce a powerful biological weapon that could spark a deadly epidemic if released into the human population.
Risks of restriction
There is a strong logic to this argument. Withholding the technical details of the steps required to produce a deadly virus would certainly make it considerably more difficult for anyone to copy the process.
And some have advocated going even further to curtail access to such information with calls for a ban on all research that could lead to new, potentially lethal viruses. Their argument is that the threat such viruses would pose if they escaped from the laboratory is so great that nothing justifies the risk of even carrying out research for them.
But both arguments have flaws. Those seeking publication of the information in heavily edited form risk denying scientists access to data that could play an essential role in preparing defences against the virus, such as developing vaccines.
A complete ban on the research could have similar repercussions. Scientific understanding of the bird flu virus, how it spreads and how it mutates, is essential to minimise the chances of another flu pandemic. The flu virus that swept across the world in 1918 killed up to 20 per cent of those infected, causing an estimated 50 million deaths.
An alternative strategy
The scientific community has had intense discussions over what to do with the papers over the past few months.
Initially the NSABB suggested a solution could lie in publishing redacted (edited) versions of the papers with some of the key scientific and technical data omitted.
Both journals to which the research was submitted have been exploring how they might do this while making full versions of the papers available to scientists who have been vetted to ensure they would use the data responsibly.
But on close examination, this option has presented difficulties. For example, much of the technical data in one of the papers has already been presented at a scientific conference so attempts to prevent its further dissemination may be ineffective.
Another significant objection raised at a meeting organised by the WHO in Geneva two weeks ago (16 February) was the difficulty of reaching an international consensus on the criteria for vetting scientists who request the full data.
Concerns in perspective
Following the WHO meeting Nature said in an editorial that the benefits of open publication outweighed the risks identified so far, and that in principle “the papers should ultimately be published in full”. [1]
Similarly the editor of Science said in a recent interview with the BBC that “our default position is that we have to publish in complete form”. [2]
A final decision is awaiting further discussion at the WHO. But this position is brave, and correct.
There are substantial public health benefits in as many scientists as possible having access to the data if they are to understand potential changes to the virus.
These outweigh the advantages — likely to be short-lived — of restricting access to prevent the data from falling into the wrong hands. And at present, the biosecurity concerns are “too general and hypothetical”, says Nature.
Furthermore, the political sensitivities of deciding who the ‘wrong hands’ are, and who should make this decision, risk heightening the international tensions that already exist over attempts to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, most recently over Iran’s nuclear programme.
But two things are essential if the data are to be made more widely available. First, open publication must be accompanied by an effective monitoring system. This would look out for potential misuse of the data.
Second, the issue needs as wide a public debate as possible, actively promoted by both health officials and journalists to ensure it is adequately informed.
Developing countries such as Indonesia, which has the highest bird flu transmission rates and the most fatalities, have a particular interest in the outcome of this debate. They have more to gain from new techniques to prevent virus transmission, such as effective vaccines, than from restrictions on the publication of these data.
Concerns about biosecurity must be kept in perspective. They are certainly important, but should not cloud our judgement on the urgency of developing adequate protection against an evolved form of the virus, whether natural or man-made.
David Dickson
Editor, SciDev.Net

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
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BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

April 12, 2012

BIRDS’ FLU RETHOUGHT WITH SCIENTIFIC OPENNESS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Birds flu struck the world as a pandemic just a few years back, creating fright night panic in some key cities over incoming overseas visitors that are afflicted with the ailment. Indonesia is among those countries hit hard in terms of transmission of the birds flu, and so the Indonesian case could be examined to rethink the health problem at hand.

What makes the birds flu hazard truly alarming is that over 80% of those afflicted die of the disease. It now seems that, on hindsight, the lack of scientific openness had inflated the destructive reach and impact of the bird flu pandemic.

There is over-consciousness about intellectual property piracy of course, which accounts for the behavior of self-constraint among research scientists. How far can that wall of secrecy be loosened up to effect a cross-border clamp down of the bird flu virus?

Below is an interesting reportage about the subject.

[Philippines, 03 April 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/bird-flu/editorials/tackling-bird-flu-effectively-needs-scientific-openness-1.html
Tackling bird flu effectively needs scientific openness
David Dickson
2 March 2012
Efforts to limit publication of controversial bird flu research could end up doing more harm than good.
Last week, a 12-year-old boy in Indonesia died after becoming infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus. His death brought the global death toll to 347 since the disease was first reported among humans in 2005.
At first sight the figure does not look too alarming compared to the many millions that die from other infectious diseases. And although the virus is usually fatal — up to 80 per cent of those infected die from it — the overall incidence of human infection remains relatively low.
This is because most people only get infected through contact with infected poultry. But what if the virus could spread between humans?
This spectre has now been raised by two teams of scientists, working at a medical centre in the Netherlands and the University of Wisconsin in the United States, respectively. Each team genetically altered the virus into a form that can pass between ferrets through the air — implying that a similar strain could evolve (or be created) that could spread between humans.
The consequences could be so disastrous that last year, a US body set up in 2005 to look at the potential biosecurity risks of laboratory-created organisms recommended that papers on the work submitted to the world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, should not be published in full.
The argument of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) was that the information could be used by terrorist groups or individuals to produce a powerful biological weapon that could spark a deadly epidemic if released into the human population.
Risks of restriction
There is a strong logic to this argument. Withholding the technical details of the steps required to produce a deadly virus would certainly make it considerably more difficult for anyone to copy the process.
And some have advocated going even further to curtail access to such information with calls for a ban on all research that could lead to new, potentially lethal viruses. Their argument is that the threat such viruses would pose if they escaped from the laboratory is so great that nothing justifies the risk of even carrying out research for them.
But both arguments have flaws. Those seeking publication of the information in heavily edited form risk denying scientists access to data that could play an essential role in preparing defences against the virus, such as developing vaccines.
A complete ban on the research could have similar repercussions. Scientific understanding of the bird flu virus, how it spreads and how it mutates, is essential to minimise the chances of another flu pandemic. The flu virus that swept across the world in 1918 killed up to 20 per cent of those infected, causing an estimated 50 million deaths.
An alternative strategy
The scientific community has had intense discussions over what to do with the papers over the past few months.
Initially the NSABB suggested a solution could lie in publishing redacted (edited) versions of the papers with some of the key scientific and technical data omitted.
Both journals to which the research was submitted have been exploring how they might do this while making full versions of the papers available to scientists who have been vetted to ensure they would use the data responsibly.
But on close examination, this option has presented difficulties. For example, much of the technical data in one of the papers has already been presented at a scientific conference so attempts to prevent its further dissemination may be ineffective.
Another significant objection raised at a meeting organised by the WHO in Geneva two weeks ago (16 February) was the difficulty of reaching an international consensus on the criteria for vetting scientists who request the full data.
Concerns in perspective
Following the WHO meeting Nature said in an editorial that the benefits of open publication outweighed the risks identified so far, and that in principle “the papers should ultimately be published in full”. [1]
Similarly the editor of Science said in a recent interview with the BBC that “our default position is that we have to publish in complete form”. [2]
A final decision is awaiting further discussion at the WHO. But this position is brave, and correct.
There are substantial public health benefits in as many scientists as possible having access to the data if they are to understand potential changes to the virus.
These outweigh the advantages — likely to be short-lived — of restricting access to prevent the data from falling into the wrong hands. And at present, the biosecurity concerns are “too general and hypothetical”, says Nature.
Furthermore, the political sensitivities of deciding who the ‘wrong hands’ are, and who should make this decision, risk heightening the international tensions that already exist over attempts to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, most recently over Iran’s nuclear programme.
But two things are essential if the data are to be made more widely available. First, open publication must be accompanied by an effective monitoring system. This would look out for potential misuse of the data.
Second, the issue needs as wide a public debate as possible, actively promoted by both health officials and journalists to ensure it is adequately informed.
Developing countries such as Indonesia, which has the highest bird flu transmission rates and the most fatalities, have a particular interest in the outcome of this debate. They have more to gain from new techniques to prevent virus transmission, such as effective vaccines, than from restrictions on the publication of these data.
Concerns about biosecurity must be kept in perspective. They are certainly important, but should not cloud our judgement on the urgency of developing adequate protection against an evolved form of the virus, whether natural or man-made.
David Dickson
Editor, SciDev.Net

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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

CLEANING UGANDA’S IMAGE WITH CLEAN DEVELOPMENT HUB ROLE

April 10, 2012

CLEANING UGANDA’S IMAGE WITH CLEAN DEVELOPMENT HUB ROLE

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Great good news is coming out of the African continent by the day, one them being the new role assigned to Uganda as clean development mechanism or CDM hub. I surely welcome this new development for Uganda, and wish no less for its immense success.

The target is to roll out the pioneering sectors over the next three (3) years that will exhibit the benefits of clean development. Belgium is bankrolling the research & development aspect. Already, a short list of industry sectors such as stove industry and hydropower were identified as key drivers of the CDM efforts.

Uganda’s image globally would surely change towards the better with the CDM hub role. The global community cannot forget those horrific times of Idi Amin tyranny era, when Uganda became an eyesore for Africa being a bloodbath country.

Below is the gladdening news about the new development in Uganda.

[Philippines, 02 April March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/news/uganda-to-become-clean-development-mechanism-hub.html
Uganda to become Clean Development Mechanism Hub
Esther Nakkazi
2 March 2012
[KAMPALA] Uganda is set to become a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Hub over the next three years, with financial assistance from Belgium.
The Belgian Development Agency is investing US$2.6 million in the scheme, which will be overseen by the designated national authority — the Climate Change Unit (CCU) at the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment.
Private companies can register to receive training in monitoring, validation, verification and how to negotiate carbon credit transactions under the CDM. These will be registered with the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat through the CCU.
Companies with the potential to earn carbon credits include many in the domestic sector: cooking stoves, domestic biogas and green charcoal — a household fuel produced from agricultural waste.
Other sectors with the potential to benefit include those involved in small-scale hydroelectricity, landfill gas, photovoltaics, solar-powered LED lighting, solar water heaters and water purification,as well as industrial activities in the sectors of cement, biodiesel, sugar and wastewater.
Traineeships will open for applications on 1 April 2012. Associates of the scheme will offer training in CDM basics, investment analysis and the mechanism’s legal aspects, according to Adriaan Tas, managing director of Carbon Africa Limited and an advisor to the project.
Ten projects are currently registered with the CDM, and the newly established Hub will work with them to help them sell Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs). These include Africa’s largest CDM renewable energy project, the Bujagali hydropower project, which is hosted by Uganda. More projects will be taken on by the Hub in the future.
Speaking at the CDM Hub launch in Kampala, Uganda, on 14 February, Tas said the scheme would add momentum to the CDM phenomenon in Uganda.
“A lot of projects get stuck without financing. They only remain at the registration level. The CDM enables us to support such projects through [to] trading and capacity building,” he said.
“We need to push this market so that it matures,” he said, adding that the programme has added benefits, including increased economic activity, job creation and technology transfer.
Bob Natifu, the CCU’s communications officer, said: “These projects not only modernise eligible sectors, but also contribute to global climate protection.”
Michael Zkalubo, meteorology commissioner at Uganda’s Water and Environment Ministry, said: “Capacity building will help us benefit from adaptation and mitigation.”
The Hub Scheme will be implemented by the CCU, working closely with international consultants from Camco International Limited and Carbon Africa Limited.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

SOUND SCIENCE SUSTAINS OCEANS

April 9, 2012

SOUND SCIENCE SUSTAINS OCEANS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Ocean management is among the emerging multi-disciplinal fields today. Judging by the rise of eco-disaster events such as oil spillage in the oceans of late, there is no reason to further delay the growth of ocean management.

Sound science is the key to workable ocean management, and I do go along with this contention. Better monitoring can buttress emergency responses by millions of folds, so the efforts toward better monitoring should be done with greater vigor.

Let’s go back to the tsunami that struck Japan over a year ago. That catastrophe left too much indelible scars on the Japanese national life as well as the global community, as there was only a fractional monitoring of oceans across the globe at that juncture. Quick response could have saved more lives and properties then, should the proper monitoring systems been in place worldwide.

Ocean management is a cross-country concern and should not just be the expertise of a few notable wealthy economies and emerging markets. The sharing of information should be one of sanguine interdependence across the globe, as ocean problems affect regions and economies when they are at peak points.

Below is a nice discussion about the subject.

[Philippines, 29 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/ocean-science-for-sustainable-development/editorials/managing-oceans-with-sound-science-1.html
Managing oceans with sound science
David Dickson and Anita Makri
15 February 2012
Management of marine resources for sustainable development needs local capacity for science, particularly in the Pacific region.
Those who care about environmental damage and its effects on the health and welfare of communities tend to focus on land-based threats. That is where harm can be most easily observed, and where its causes — from agricultural pesticides to industrial air pollution — are most readily identified.
But this ignores the vast damage that human activity has also inflicted on the planet’s largest, and possibly most valuable, resource: its oceans.
Oceans cover nearly three quarters of the Earth’s surface, contain 80 per cent of its living organisms, and deliver 60 per cent of the dietary protein in tropical developing countries.
The services that oceans provide are now under threat from human activities ranging from severe over-fishing to mineral extraction, and from the impacts of acidification to global warming.
There is no simple response to these threats. But an essential component of any strategy to protect the oceans — and to ensure sustainable development of their resources — is effective, science-based management.
This, in turn, requires reliable data on which to base sound policy decisions (as well as an appropriate balance between science and traditional local knowledge).
So one of the biggest challenges facing communities that rely on healthy oceans for their survival — particularly the small island developing states (SIDS) in the Pacific and elsewhere — is building the capacity to both generate and interpret such data.
Oceans in the spotlight
This week, we present a number of articles highlighting the challenges faced in generating the robust scientific data that form the bedrock to effective management of marine resources, with a particular emphasis on the Pacific region.
Our Spotlight opens with an overview of the issues at stake. Sarah Grimes, the editorial consultant on this project, describes the main monitoring and data-gathering projects that currently operate in the Pacific, and how they help keep track of threats to sustainable development.
She outlines how ocean science developed from the early 1800s to the initiatives agreed twenty years ago at the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and looks at the future challenges facing small island developing nations.
Grimes also warns that “Limited information can lead to poor decisions that limit countries’ capacity to develop without damaging the marine environment and the health of local populations, perpetuating the cycle of poverty”.
In the first of three opinion articles, Ben Ponia describes how monitoring priorities have changed over the years in the Cook Islands, of which he is marine resources secretary. He highlights the importance of building local capacity to use scientific tools, and argues that Pacific islands need to take responsibility for monitoring into their own hands.
Fisheries scientist Johann Bell looks at how better monitoring data could improve fishing strategies. He argues that climate change, despite the dangers it presents, could actually benefit some Pacific countries through increasing catches of tuna. But success will require information from local communities, relevant training programmes, and long-term investment by countries themselves.
Ocean scientists Sidney Thurston and M. Ravichandran describe the growing risk of damage — whether through vandalism or negligence — to ocean buoys that gather crucial data for ocean and climate monitoring. They warn that without action to prevent such damage, the global community will suffer not only the financial loses, but also vital data, and even lives.
Finally, in a feature on the growth of locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) in the Pacific region — one of the success stories of sustainable ocean resource development — assistant news editor Naomi Antony describes the challenges in balancing the contribution of modern science with that of the traditional knowledge embedded in local cultures, and the practical demands of locally managed resource conservation strategies.
Signs of progress
Of course, good scientific data, and even well-designed conservation strategies, are not sufficient to ensure sustainable development. Equally necessary is a political framework to ensure that both are put into effective use.
So there are high hopes that one of the more substantial conclusions to emerge from the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which takes place in June (20 years after the first Earth Summit), will be political agreement on the need for a number of steps to protect the world’s marine resources.
So far the signs are promising. The ‘zero draft’ of the final report for the conference, published last month, includes a commitment to a new treaty to protect the two-thirds of the world’s oceans that lie outside national jurisdictions. It also promises to address issues such as marine debris and ocean acidification.
There are therefore reasons to be optimistic that the Rio+20 conference will be a milestone in efforts to protect the oceans for future generations. But political agreement will be meaningless unless it can be translated into concrete steps. As Grimes points out, previous commitments have been slow to progress, partly because political priorities often work against the direction of good environmental management.
Future progress will rely on science playing a major role through spotting and analysing problems, identifying potential solutions, and monitoring how effective they have been. Much of this requires coordinated action at the international level.
But ultimately, true progress must be local. Those island states on the front line of problems created by poor ocean management need support and resources to develop their capacity to generate and use scientific data. Only then can they play a full role in establishing a more effective, and sustainable, approach.
David Dickson,
Editor, SciDev.Net
Anita Makri,
Commissioning editor, SciDev.Net
This article is part of a Spotlight on Ocean science for sustainable development.
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PROF. ERLE FRAYNE ARGONZA WEBSITE: http://erleargonza.com

ARGONZA SOCIAL BLOGS & LINKS:
http://erleargonza.blogspot.com, https://unladtau.wordpress.com, http://www.facebook.com, http://www.newciv.org, http://sta.rtup.biz, http://magicalsecretgarden.socialparadox.com, http://en.netlog.com/erlefrayne, http://talangguro.blogfree.net, http://www.blogster.com/erleargonza, http://efdargon.multiply.com,
http://internationalpeaceandconflict.org, http://erleargonza.seekopia.com, http://lovingenergies.spruz.com, http://www.articlesforfree.net, http://www.facebook.com

DEVELOPMENT SITES:
http://www.adb.org, http://www.asean.org, http://www.bis.org, http://www.devex.com, http://www.eldis.org, http://www.fao.org, http://www.icc-cpi.int, http://www.imf.org, http://www.iom.int, http://www.scidev.net, http://www.un.org, http://www.undp.org, http://www.unescap.org, http://www.unesco.org, http://www.unhabitat.org, http://www.unhcr.org, http://www.unido.org, http://www.unis.unvienna.org, http://www.who.int, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.wto.org

37 WEEKS TO 12/21/12: NEW POLITICAL-MILITARY TIMELINE UNVEILS

March 31, 2012

37 WEEKS TO 12/21/12: NEW POLITICAL-MILITARY TIMELINE UNVEILS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Ra
31 March 2012

Gracious day from this White Robe / Adept of the Brotherhood of Light!

For this heraldry, I will focus on the rapidly changing politico-military context. We are experiencing the quickening of the Age, so you Ascension enthusiasts better retool and rethink your life directions most urgently. You just have 37 weeks + 6 days to roller coaster to New Earth.

As far as the global elites of Luciferan ignominy are concerned, their strategic reinforcement of mind control which sustains their governance of politico-economic structures is eroding fast. Their planned total destruction of economic and political structures is back-firing, their Armageddon agenda getting stalled along the way. The quickening of the old world is fast unveiling a new timeline, thus giving the resonant signal to the Lizard Illuminates to stand down or perish.

At this juncture, the Celestial Forces are well prepared to engage Armageddon maniacs in case they proceed with their insidious evil plot to annihilate mankind through nuclear thermidore. Legions of warrior angels—Whitefire Angels, Blue Lightning Angels, and a new class of angel warriors —are massed up for the purpose, and are ready for the stickiest and toughest contingencies.

New Celestial firepower heretofore unknown will be unleashed upon the power maniacs if they persist on pushing through with their Demonically forged destructive agenda. God is directly intervening in the affairs of Earth since 1974, and He will take Earth by force as pronounced through the Master-Adept JJ Hurtak in the 70s yet, so the Celestial firepower was upgraded with the imprimatur of the Father to save the elect of humanity and prepare them in the New Earth for enseeding the coming 6th root race.

As the balance of power shifts even more skewed towards the Light, the installation of Lord Kolki as World Leader is now being prepared in Shamballah. Furthermore, the provisional Guardianship Council—comprising of Ascended Masters (some came from the White Robes on Terra’s surface)—which has been in operation since 2008 yet, is being prepared for a full mandate as administrative Aides of the World Leader.

Gatekeeper Councils, one for each region (region = 2-4 nations), have been in operation across the etheric ‘belt’ of the planet since 2009 yet. They are now well oiled, mature as institutional formations, aid in balancing energies across the globe, and are well prepared for a global consensus body mandate akin to a global parliament for the New Earth. [E. Argonza, “Gatekeeperships: Prelude to Planetary State,” http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/gatekeeperships-prelude-to-planetary-state/.%5D

Lastly, the Gatekeepership for each of Terra’s major energy spots or centers is now being constituted. Congruous with the physical body’s major chakras, there are 70 major energy spots across the globe, 7 of which serve as the planet’s 7 Major Chakras. Once in full operation, the said spots will ensure protocols for their beneficial usage be implemented, thus preventing their illicit utilization by Fallen Aliens for beaconing, energy utilization of spaceships, and intentional distortion of the planet’s energy grids.

4th Dimensional bases of the Galactic Confederation’s sector command (to which Solarians respectively report to) were already formed beginning in 2009 yet. That was made possible by the re-opening of the stargate portal to the galaxy, a gargantuan mission that enabled the passage of Galactic Command or GC motherships and subsidiary vessels (see E. Argonza, “Stargate Portal is Awakening! It’s Above Palawan!”
http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com/2010/07/).

I need not further belabor the reportage about arrest & incarceration of Evil Masters (of which there was once a mighty 1-Million force of evil hierarchs, that’s now down to 2/3 its size). I was given permission to access the information about their state just this month: strapped all over w/ mineral/metallic thought neutralizers on their heads, they are dying as dead carcass due to the absence of Light that they used to suck from out of their human victims. Many have disintegrated, and the rest will go that way too.

With a diminutive hierarchy to support them, and cut off from their Empire ramparts (the Draconian invasion force in late 90s-2002 was wiped out by the GC sector forces), the global Luciferan elites have no better recourse than to stand down. Their old antics of massive payolas on espionage, disinformation and sabotage networks sent out to derail the Lightworkers’ sanguine works, are conking out fast, even as their spies are now rapidly catching the scare sickness. The said dirty operators are among the list of Evil Ones scheduled for arrest and incarceration, while the Celestial firepower is also directed on their entire networks as live targets at this juncture.

The true humans of Terra hereby dedicate to The Evil Lizards the famed Bob Dylan song KNOCKING ON HEAVEN’S DOOR: “Mama put my guns on the ground/I can’t shoot them anymore/That lone black cloud is coming down/Feels like I’m knocking on heaven’s door.”

The Evil Ones on Terra’s surface are indeed aching now to knock on hyperspace ‘heaven’ doors in order to escape the karmic justice enforcement on their ranks. Sadly, there will be no escape for the evil cabals. It is their destiny of Gotterdamerung (twilight of the gods) now shaped up.

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MARINE BIOPROSPECTING FOR ASIA-PACIFIC

March 29, 2012

MARINE BIOPROSPECTING FOR ASIA-PACIFIC
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Seaweeds, sponges, and sea urchins are species that abound in the Philippines and elsewhere in Asia. Add corals and more, and you’d have a long list of marine species that can serve medical and related purposes.

Biotech has reached maturity in Asia, and its applications had revolutionized crop production and forestry production. Biotech likewise has applications for marine products which, through bioprospecting and acceptable bio-mining methods, can truly be eco-sustaining at the same time as they benefit the larger human population.

This early, however, problems are already being encountered in unregulated prospecting and mining of biological species. Coupling bioprospecting in the Asia-Pacific should be policy frameworks and enforcement across the region, which the likes of the ASEAN can lead in institutionalization. Otherwise, the continent might lose too many of its rare species to greedy pirates from the Big Business, pirates that have silently been collecting, culturing, and patenting the same rare species.

Below is a fitting report about the subject.

[Philippines, 25 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/bioprospecting/news/asia-pacific-may-benefit-from-marine-bio-prospecting.html
Asia-Pacific may benefit from marine bio-prospecting
Ruci Mafi Botei
2 March 2012
Miguel Costa Leal
[FIJI] Indo-Pacific nations stand to make millions of dollars from medical applications of resources from marine invertebrates such as sponges and soft corals, researchers say.
But they warn that better regulation of such resources is needed to ensure they are used sustainably.
Substances generated by some marine invertebrates have the potential to be used in drugs to treat diseases like cancer, and exploration for these resources is expected to rise in response to escalating demands for such drugs, said Miguel Costa Leal, biologist at the University of Aveiro in Portugal and lead author of a study in PLoS One (20 January).
“The global market for marine-derived drugs was around US$4.8 billion in 2011 and is forecast to reach US$8.6 billion by 2016,” he told SciDev.Net.
“Worldwide, nations are generally aware of such interest. But adequate management guidelines addressing bioprospecting are still missing in most countries.”
The study said that the Pacific Ocean accounts for most new marine natural products discovered over the past two decades – and for nearly two-thirds of all such products identified so far.
Leal said there is clear potential for marine invertebrates to contribute to the development of drugs that address a range of diseases such as cancers, microbial infections, inflammation, malaria and tuberculosis.
But he called for better regulations to govern bio-prospectors and marine systems, to ensure such resources are adequately protected.
A keen debate on the governance of marine resources is expected at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June, where oceans are a key theme.
The draft negotiating document for Rio+20 stresses the importance of “equitable sharing of marine and ocean resources” and calls for an urgent start on negotiating an agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea “that would address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction”.
In the Pacific, there are also calls for wealth from marine resources to be shared with indigenous communities.
“The chemical resources of the marine environment remain underdeveloped, in particular in the vast Pacific region,” said Eric Clua, co-ordinator of the Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
“Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge of plants and their medicinal uses has long been a source for modern medicine,” Clua said, adding that they have “often seen little or no benefit from the commercialisation of medicines originating from their traditional knowledge”.
Link to full study in PLoS ONE [925kB]
Link to SciDev.Net’s Spotlight on Ocean science for sustainable development

RE-ENGINEERING NIPPLE DEVICE TO AVOID INFANT HIV

March 28, 2012

RE-ENGINEERING NIPPLE DEVICE TO AVOID INFANT HIV

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Breastfeeding by a healthy mother can yield enormous health and adaptability benefits for the fragile infant. However, an AIDS infected mother is a different story altogether, in that breastfeeding brings HIV harm directly to the infant.

Researchers are therefore challenged to innovate on a nipple device that can cut the infant infection by the mother’s HIV/AIDS condition. Time seems running out on the project, as 400,000 babies are infected with HIV across the planet every year.

A very interesting news about the subject is shown below.

[Philippines, 17 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/news/nipple-device-could-deliver-drugs-to-babies.html
Nipple device could deliver drugs to babies
Karen McColl
27 February 2012
A simple nipple shield could help breastfeeding mothers cut the risk of HIV infection from breast milk, say researchers.
Nipple shields are often used by mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding, and a modified version of the shield has been developed by a team of young engineers with a view to reducing mother-to-child HIV transmission.
The tip contains a removable insert, which can be impregnated with a microbicide designed to inactivate the HIV virus. The drug would be flushed out by breast milk as the baby feeds.
More recently, the team has been exploring whether a similar device could deliver antiretroviral drugs to breastfeeding babies, in light of changing advice from the WHO. The WHO now recommends that babies born to HIV-positive mothers be breastfed and simultaneously receive antiretroviral drugs, unless conditions are safe for formula feeding.
Globally, about 400,000 children a year are infected with HIV, nearly all acquiring the virus from their mothers. The risk of transmission is significantly increased by breastfeeding.
The only way to eliminate this risk is not to breastfeed, but formula feeding is often unsafe, expensive and impractical, especially in developing countries, where formula-fed babies face a higher risk of malnutrition, diarrhoea and other infections. This is particularly the case in Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 90 per cent of mothers infected with HIV live.
A project to develop the modified shield, called JustMilk, was launched at the International Development Design Summit in 2008. The researchers say it may also be possible to produce inserts containing other medications or nutritional supplements.
The project has attracted much attention, including a US$100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration research grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009.
But Stephen Gerrard, a JustMilk researcher at the University of Cambridge in United Kingdom said more research is needed.
“We have to prove without a doubt that if this device is used by a mother, the volume of milk consumed does not change,” he said.
Gerrard told SciDev.Net that trials to test this principle are expected to take place within the next year.
“I’m optimistic that we can do good with this device once we are sure that it does not impede breastfeeding and would not create any stigma,” he added.
Andrew Tomkins, at the Institute of Child Health in London, said: “The potential problem with a nipple shield device will be making sure that the dose is adequate for the baby.”

ASIA’S 2ND GREEN REVOLUTION, WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?

March 26, 2012

ASIA’S 2ND GREEN REVOLUTION, WHAT’S YOUR TAKE?
Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Crispin Maslog from the Philippines has been advocating for a 2nd Green Revolution for Asia. I wonder what fellow development stakeholders think about this afterthought.

The Green Revolution was waged beginning in the 1960s, with no less than Philippine technocrats and industry players praising the UN-led initiative to high praises. The International Rice Research Institute was founded in Laguna, Philippines in 1964, and the rice science maturation is history.

Couples of decades later, could we ever say that the explosion in agricultural production which the term ‘green revolution’ ever redeem the shirtless folks from hunger? That wave of agricultural explosion immensely damaged the top soil of many developing countries, damage that is almost irreversible at this juncture. There was hardly any discernable association of the ‘green’ in that crop revolution to ecological balance that the term connotes today.

So what’s your take about this 2nd Green Revolution for the world’s most populous continent?

[Philippines, 15 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/opinions/asia-pacific-analysis-launching-a-second-green-revolution-1.html
Asia–Pacific Analysis: Launching a second Green Revolution
Crispin Maslog
23 February 2012
Feeding South-East Asia’s rapidly growing population requires a second Green Revolution, says Crispin Maslog.
The Day of Seven Billion was proclaimed by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on 31 October 2011 as a historic milestone — the day the world’s population reached seven billion people. And the world is on a steep growth curve for the rest of this century.
More than half (3.8 billion) of the population are Asians. Although South-East Asia comprises only 0.6 billion, it is growing fast — by almost 200 per cent between 1950 and 2000 — and is set to grow by another 50 per cent by 2050. [1]
One of the most critical challenges facing a world with a population of seven billion is how to feed the roughly three billion people living below the poverty line in the slums of developing countries.
A ‘perfect storm’
Scientists have warned that in the next 50 years, the world will consume twice as much food as it has since the beginning of agriculture 10,000 years ago. [2] This is a startling statistic.
But thinking beyond food security to other crises facing the planet, the prospects look even more daunting. Asian agricultural scientist William D. Dar, director-general of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), spoke last month of a coming “perfect storm”. [3]
This will be triggered by food shortages resulting from the population explosion, and aggravated by a combination of climate change (leading to warming temperatures and weather extremes including droughts and floods), land degradation, loss of biodiversity and increasing demand for energy.
To meet the challenge of feeding the half-billion or so poor people in South-East Asia and the Pacific, Dar and other agricultural scientists, including International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) director-general Robert Zeigler, have called for a second Green Revolution.
The first Green Revolution, led in Asia by IRRI in the 1960s and 1970s, prevented a predicted famine. Much of its success was due to the technological development of crops, such as semi-dwarf rice variety IR8, also known as the ‘miracle rice’ that produced 10 times the yield of traditional rice.
But despite its success, the Green Revolution had its share of critics. There were mistakes and side effects. Lessons must be learned if the countries of South-East Asia and the Pacific are to benefit from a second Green Revolution.
A greener revolution
The Green Revolution was criticised for focusing on a few high-yielding varieties that depend on irrigation, chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These practices harmed the environment and affected both agricultural and wild biodiversity.
It also meant that farmers began to rely on just a few crop species. In India, for example, there were about 30,000 rice varieties before the Green Revolution. Today there are around 10 — the most productive types.
Mono-cropping has left the three staple crops of the Green Revolution — rice, maize and wheat — vulnerable to plant diseases that cannot be controlled by agrochemicals. It also led to concerns about the permanent loss of valuable genetic traits bred into traditional varieties over thousands of years.
To avoid repeating these mistakes, a second Green Revolution should include more than the staple crops that fed the world from the 1950s to the 1980s, and embrace dryland farming to grow crops such as sorghum, cassava and beans.
And it should harness South-East Asia’s vast upland, rain-fed agricultural areas, not just the irrigated lowlands at the centre of food production decades ago. About 70 per cent of the land area of South-East Asia is rain-fed, and most of its poor people live in these areas.
Harnessing science
Agricultural science and technologies developed over the decades can contribute to the success of a second Green Revolution. The challenge is to increase production using less water, nutrients and land, and with lower environmental impact.
But food security also requires crops that can withstand extreme weather. For example, IRRI has developed a rice variety that can survive two weeks of complete submergence in water, and recently released to farmers in Bangladesh two drought-tolerant rice varieties, BRRI dhan56 and BRRI dhan57. [4]
And ICRISAT has developed and tested innovations in crop, soil and water management that can help farmers better adapt to the impacts of climate change. For example, it has shown that adapting the germplasm of sorghum — the dietary staple of more than 500 million people in rain-fed areas — can help maintain crop yields in warmer temperatures.
Scientific innovations are here to be harnessed to head off the looming ‘perfect storm’. What is needed is the political will — from governments, foundations and international agencies — to jump-start a second, greener Green Revolution in the uplands.

Crispin Maslog is a Manila-based consultant for the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication. A former journalist, professor and environmental activist, he worked for the Press Foundation of Asia and the International Rice Research Institute.
References
[1] Hayes, A. C. and Zhao, Z. Population prospects in East and Southeast Asia. (East Asia Forum, 2012)
[2] International Service for the Acquistion of Agri-Biotech Applications. Brief 43-2011: Executive Summary. Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops: 2011.
[3] Dar, W. D. Weathering the perfect storm. (Disaster Management Times, 2012).
[4] Dobermann, A. Blueprint for a greener revolution. Rice Today 10, 18–21 (2011)

INDIA GEARS UP AS SCIENCE SUPERPOWER

March 23, 2012

INDIA GEARS UP AS SCIENCE SUPERPOWER

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

India is gearing up to become a science superpower. Millions of youth are being urged to take up science careers, and there’s sufficient reason to forecast the success of this expectation.

Federal institutions have already allotted no less than US $8B for science R&D to bring science to the next level. Do note that at this juncture, certain industrial sectors have already matured in their science & technology components, to wit: automotives, metallurgy, chemicals, biotech, nuclear tech, rocketry, castings & forgings, heavy equipment, transport, and more.

Asia already outpaced the West’s technology cutting edge in 2007 yet, thanks to relentless efforts in S&T research & development. India is among the core contributors to the Asian surge in science & technology, just to stress the point a bit.

All power to Indian science!

[Philippines, 13 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/features/challenges-facing-india-s-bid-for-science-superpower-status.html
Challenges facing India’s bid for science ‘superpower’ status
Source: Science
27 February 2012
India is well-placed to push ahead with its bid to become a scientific powerhouse — but there are hurdles ahead if the dream is to be fully realised, according to an article published in Science.
During India’s Cold War alliance with the former Soviet Union, Western sanctions forced researchers to grow their own civilian nuclear power industry and space programme.
Following a landmark civilian nuclear deal with the United States in 2008, India shook off its sanction era limitations, and has invested heavily to enable other disciplines to mimic its stellar achievements in rocketry and nuclear science.
Last month Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that R&D expenditure would nearly triple — from US$3 billion last year to US$8 billion by 2017 — and that the private sector would receive incentives to add to that investment.
The government has also established a National Science and Engineering Research Board, modelled on the US National Science Foundation, which is expected to fund its first competitive grants this year.
But obstacles remain, including the challenge of navigating India’s complex bureaucracy.
“Even the best of intentions can disappear without a trace in the quicksands of officialdom,” says Padmanabhan Balaram, director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
Many universities have also been slow to benefit from the extra available cash, because of poor facilities, limited opportunities for younger academics, and issues with corruption.
Rather than upgrade India’s universities, the government has — somewhat controversially — chosen to expand the education and research system on an unprecedented scale.
New institutes of scientific education and research have been created, and millions of high school students are to receive one-off grants to encourage them to consider careers in science.
To further boost capacity, the government is also setting up fellowship programmes to persuade Indian graduates not to follow the well-worn path of a stint in an overseas laboratory — and to entice those living abroad to come home.
“There’s a concerted movement to bring people back,” says Savita Ayyar, head of the research development office at the National Centre for Biological Sciences.
“Now we’re able to create an environment and mechanisms for postdocs to stay here.”
And as India’s economy roars, while Western economies struggle, the current trickle of returning scientists could turn into a flood.
Link to full article in Science

KENAF BUILDS BUILDINGS!

March 20, 2012

KENAF BUILDS BUILDINGS!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Can plants coming from the cotton species suffice to build buildings?

Here’s one for the great news: kenaf, which belongs to the cotton plant, had successfully been demonstrated to serve as construction material. Mixed with sand and clay, the fibrous plant works wonders for places where it is in abundance.
The appropriate technology has become a wave in Burkina Faso, as it is also used to make paper. As the report below shows, “They developed a kenaf composite material that is cheaper and stronger than ordinary building materials, and provides excellent insulation in the hot climate, as well as blocking out sound.”
Cheap and competitive as a material, the appro-tech can become a wave of the future that will help to solve housing problems across the globe.

[Philippines, 12 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/r-d-in-africa/news/kenaf-based-building-material-shows-promise.html
Kenaf-based building material shows promise
Fatouma Sophie Ouattara
28 February 2012
[OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO] Researchers from Burkina Faso and France have developed a low-cost construction material made of clay and sand mixed with fibres from the kenaf plant.
Kenaf is member of the cotton family, and its fibres are already widely used in Burkina Faso to make bags and ropes, as well as other products typically made from wood, like paper.
Jacob Sanou, of the Farako-Ba research station of Bobo-Dioulasso, in Burkina Faso, says he was inspired to try using kenaf to make building materials by the flax plant, which Europeans have used in a wide range of products including clothing, paper and industrial products.
Sanou joined forces with two specialists in composite materials based in France — Philippe Blanchart, from the National School of Industrial Ceramics at the University of Limoges, and Moussa Gomina, a Burkinabé researcher at the University of Caen.
They developed a kenaf composite material that is cheaper and stronger than ordinary building materials, and provides excellent insulation in the hot climate, as well as blocking out sound.
The team studied kenaf farming practices and found that the plant has no detrimental effect on soil quality, and even without fertiliser, average yields are around four tonnes per hectare, making it a potentially valuable and environmentally sustainable crop.
The work paves the way for rural farming communities to build comfortable, affordable homes for themselves and their families without damaging the environment, Sanou told SciDev.Net.
“Our study suggests that kenaf has good potential as a building material,” he said, adding that more research is needed to determine its commercial viability.
Burkina Faso’s minister in charge of scientific research and innovation, Gnissa Konaté, said the work is of considerable interest to the government, which has recently prioritised the building sector and eco-materials under its latest research policy.
Konaté added that the country’s climate poses challenges for conventional building materials.
“Construction with cement is not adapted to the warm climatic conditions of Burkina Faso,” he said.
“Cement stores heat, so buildings which are made from this material consume more energy due to their reliance on air conditioners. Combining kenaf with local clay was an unexpected success, which the authorities are willing to seize in order to stir up the building sector in Burkina Faso.”
Further laboratory studies will be carried out at the University of Ougadougou and civil engineering colleges, says Sadou.

TRAVAILS OF AFRICAN SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

March 18, 2012

TRAVAILS OF AFRICAN SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Bad news for the development stakeholders!

African science researchers are having a hard time sustaining their professional careers. These are not just ordinary run of the mill researchers or those pretenders out there, but PhD degree holders.

The situation calls for greater linkage between universities and end-users in the noblesse continent. In the Asian experience, end users (notably industry users) provide huge endowment funds, research funds and scholarships to universities, such as my country the Philippines has shown so far; in return, end users absorb the top-of-the-line graduates of top universities.

I guess it’s a question of the level of institutionalization of science in any one context that defines the degree of professional security of its career scientists. Africa’s sciences are still in their take-off through growth stages, while those of emerging markets’ are already in their maturity phase.

Let’s hope for the best in the coming maturation of science in Africa. It may take a bit of time, but good examples are already popping up in key urban centers across the continent.

[Philippines, 11 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/education/news/african-researchers-struggle-to-establish-careers.html
African researchers ‘struggle’ to establish careers
Mićo Tatalović
28 February 2012
[LONDON] African universities need to better support early career researchers if they are to build a thriving research environment and boost the continent’s overall number of PhD-qualified staff, according to a joint report by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities launched yesterday (27 February).
Many African science graduates struggle to establish careers after leaving university as they do not receive enough assistance to define their research agendas and develop professionally, says the report, Foundations for the Future: Supporting the Early Careers of African Researchers.
Instead, post-doctorate graduates working as ‘junior lecturers’ in African universities are often overloaded with teaching and administrative duties, and have to pursue research and writing academic papers in their spare time.
To counter this, the report urges senior academics to encourage research by younger colleagues and to mentor them on collaborations, publishing and preparing funding applications.
It is essential that science be recognised as an “intergenerational endeavour”, the report’s author, Jonathan Harle, told SciDev.Net:
“One thing which is absolutely critical is … trying to find ways in which senior academics can be encouraged, enabled and incentivised to nurture [the early career researchers],” he said.
The report builds on the Nairobi Process, a series of actions and initiatives developed to improve UK-Africa research collaborations in the humanities and social sciences, which is being coordinated by the British Academy and the ACU.
Its recommendations are the product of consultations with African and British academics across a wide range of fields, said Graham Furniss, chair of the British Academy’s Africa Panel.
“The analysis and the mechanisms proposed are, we think, very relevant to STEM [science, technology, engineering and medicine] subjects and we would welcome further discussion on how the UK could strengthen support across the board to early career scholars,” he said.
Marta Tufet, International Activities Adviser at the Wellcome Trust, called for the active involvement of vice chancellors and rectors in the creation of better mentoring programmes in Africa.
She warned that without the support of university leaders to enable researchers to carry out their own work, little progress could be expected.
Kenyan Chege Githiora, from the African Studies Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, United Kingdom, welcomed the report but told SciDev.Net that capacity-building of university administrators and librarians is equally important.
“These are the people who actually keep the universities running so if you don’t have their support you cannot do your research,” Githiora said. “My experience with [African universities] is that a lot of hindrances young African scholars encounter have to do with university administration and governance.”

TRAVAILS OF AFRICAN SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

March 18, 2012

TRAVAILS OF AFRICAN SCIENCE RESEARCHERS

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Bad news for the development stakeholders!

African science researchers are having a hard time sustaining their professional careers. These are not just ordinary run of the mill researchers or those pretenders out there, but PhD degree holders.

The situation calls for greater linkage between universities and end-users in the noblesse continent. In the Asian experience, end users (notably industry users) provide huge endowment funds, research funds and scholarships to universities, such as my country the Philippines has shown so far; in return, end users absorb the top-of-the-line graduates of top universities.

I guess it’s a question of the level of institutionalization of science in any one context that defines the degree of professional security of its career scientists. Africa’s sciences are still in their take-off through growth stages, while those of emerging markets’ are already in their maturity phase.

Let’s hope for the best in the coming maturation of science in Africa. It may take a bit of time, but good examples are already popping up in key urban centers across the continent.

[Philippines, 11 March 2012]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/science-and-innovation-policy/education/news/african-researchers-struggle-to-establish-careers.html
African researchers ‘struggle’ to establish careers
Mićo Tatalović
28 February 2012
[LONDON] African universities need to better support early career researchers if they are to build a thriving research environment and boost the continent’s overall number of PhD-qualified staff, according to a joint report by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities launched yesterday (27 February).
Many African science graduates struggle to establish careers after leaving university as they do not receive enough assistance to define their research agendas and develop professionally, says the report, Foundations for the Future: Supporting the Early Careers of African Researchers.
Instead, post-doctorate graduates working as ‘junior lecturers’ in African universities are often overloaded with teaching and administrative duties, and have to pursue research and writing academic papers in their spare time.
To counter this, the report urges senior academics to encourage research by younger colleagues and to mentor them on collaborations, publishing and preparing funding applications.
It is essential that science be recognised as an “intergenerational endeavour”, the report’s author, Jonathan Harle, told SciDev.Net:
“One thing which is absolutely critical is … trying to find ways in which senior academics can be encouraged, enabled and incentivised to nurture [the early career researchers],” he said.
The report builds on the Nairobi Process, a series of actions and initiatives developed to improve UK-Africa research collaborations in the humanities and social sciences, which is being coordinated by the British Academy and the ACU.
Its recommendations are the product of consultations with African and British academics across a wide range of fields, said Graham Furniss, chair of the British Academy’s Africa Panel.
“The analysis and the mechanisms proposed are, we think, very relevant to STEM [science, technology, engineering and medicine] subjects and we would welcome further discussion on how the UK could strengthen support across the board to early career scholars,” he said.
Marta Tufet, International Activities Adviser at the Wellcome Trust, called for the active involvement of vice chancellors and rectors in the creation of better mentoring programmes in Africa.
She warned that without the support of university leaders to enable researchers to carry out their own work, little progress could be expected.
Kenyan Chege Githiora, from the African Studies Centre at the School of Oriental and African Studies, United Kingdom, welcomed the report but told SciDev.Net that capacity-building of university administrators and librarians is equally important.
“These are the people who actually keep the universities running so if you don’t have their support you cannot do your research,” Githiora said. “My experience with [African universities] is that a lot of hindrances young African scholars encounter have to do with university administration and governance.”