India moves to curb bio-piracy
India has created a map of its biological resources such as medicinal plants and rare animals to protect them from being pirated, said a scientist attending the nation’s annual science congress that opened Friday. K. Kasturirangan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, said the map would help researchers and protect the items from being patented by foreign companies for commercial profit. “There have been cases of bio-piracy against Indian biological wealth. This document, which we call the Biodiversity Atlas, will form the basis for fighting such acts,” said Kasturirangan. The Indian government was angered recently by a U.S. company obtaining a patent on a rice strain identified as “similar but superior to Basmati rice.” India considers Basmati rice an agricultural product native to South Asia; similar to the view France takes of champagne. Scientists in India are concerned about moves by international companies to patent foods, products and procedures that have been used by native peoples for centuries.
He said the Indian space agency’s satellites have been photographing India’s forests, mountains and other “biological hotspots,” for several years. The atlas, to be made public Friday, is a compilation of all the data collected. The meeting will also discuss genome research, nanotechnology, food security, climate change and information technology. According to the private New Delhi-based Tata Energy Research Institute, India accounts for only 2.4 percent of the world’s area but is home to one-third of all identified flowering plants. The country also has 89,451 animal species and 25 biological hotspots — areas of rich plant and animal diversity.
India plans mission to moon by 2015
India has plans to send a manned mission to the moon sometime between 2005 and 2015, a senior space research official said Saturday. “In a few months from now, there will be a review of our plans for a lunar mission. We would first send an unmanned flight around the moon,” said Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan.
ISRO builds India’s satellites and launches them from either its own facility on the southeastern coast or from launch pads abroad. Kasturirangan said India’s latest launch vehicle could put satellites weighing up to 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds) into a geostationary orbit, in which a satellite remains above the same spot on earth. Future developments will enable the launch of satellites weighing up to 4,000 kilograms (8,800 pounds), he told the conference of scientists in Bangalore, India’s technology hub.
Some 6,000 delegates, including 120 scientists from abroad, are expected to take part.