The Compound Eye – US is investigating scientists of Chinese descent, a new kilogram and a 5000 year old beer!

A fortnightly newsletter keeping an eye on science policy and news from around the world.

The Biological Diversity Act, 2002: 

The Biological Diversity Act was enacted to meet India’s international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Act’s has two main purposes:  to regulate access to India’s biodiversity and to ensure appropriate benefit sharing if the biodiversity if used for commercial purposes.

Regulating Access:

Under the Act any non-Indian (foreign national or company) would require permission from the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) for accessing Biodiversity in India. Section 3 (c) (ii) states a non-Indian company as a company “incorporated or registered in India under any law for the time being in force which has any non-Indian participation in its share capital or management.” This is a stringent categorisation as compared to other Acts where a company has to demonstrate more than 50% foreign ownership to be deemed as a non-Indian company. Further there are no time lines to the approval system, increasing the barriers for a “foreign” company to invest in researching and commercialising Indian biodiversity. (Read more)

US crackdown on Chinese Scientists

The US-China political conflict is spilling into areas of research. Since last year there have been delays and reduction in visas given to Chinese scientists travelling to the US for research conferences.

But in latest news, scientists of Chinese descent at MD Anderson Cancer Center have been the first to be publicly dismissed following an effort of NIH to crackdown on that could threaten US national interests. This is a response to the FBI’s notion that broad efforts are being made by foreign actors, in particular China, to steal the fruits of U.S. government-funded research and other valuable intellectual property. Last August, NIH director Francis Collins wrote a letter to the more than 10,000 US institutions that the agency funds, stating that it was concerned that “some foreign entities” were interfering in the funding, research and peer review of NIH-supported projects.(Read more)

The New Kilogram

On Monday 20th May 2019, India adopted a new global resolution redefining the kilogram. Why in the world is the world redefining the kilogram?

Over 100 countries have adopted the metric system of measurements, also known as the International System of Units (SI), which has been in practice since 1889. Since then the kilogram has been defined by a single mass of platinum-iridium which is held outside Paris. All modern mass measurements are traceable back to it – from micrograms to kilos to tonnes. More than a century of cleanings and exposure to air has caused this base measure — known as the International Prototype of the Kilogram, or “Le Grand K” — to lose about 50 micrograms. (Read more)

Meanwhile, in the lost and found section

Argentina and Algeria certified as malaria-free: Algeria is the second country in the WHO African Region to be officially recognized as malaria-free, after Mauritius, which was certified in 1973. Argentina is the second country in the WHO Region of the Americas to be certified in 45 years, after Paraguay in June 2018. Algeria (where the malaria parasite was first discovered by French physician Dr Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran in 1880) and Argentina reported their last cases of indigenous malaria in 2013 and 2010 respectively. (Read more)