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Environment

Hyderabad, Aug.8 (NSS): Planet Earth is suffering from the problems like global warming, environmental pollution, climate change, depleting natural resources and so on. With a view to improve the conditions for Earth and provide a healthy environment and breathable air for the generations to come, a Oneness Green Project has been initiated. The project involves planting, caring and growing one crore trees in 16 States across India. As part of it, the planting of one lakh tree saplings in and around the Ranga Reddy district was kicked off here at Hyderabad. Ms Y. Saraswati Rao, Andhra Mahila Sabha chairperson; Ms G.L.K. Durga, Andhra Mahila Sabha Principal; Prof. Rama Krishna, NSS Coordinator; Ms Pranaya, Sri Amma Bhagavan Youth Seva Samithi president, along with Samithi members and students from Andhra Mahila Sabha Arts & Science College for Women took part in a ceremony to kick off the tree plantation drive here at Andhra Mahila Sabha Arts & Science College for Women at Osmania University campus, here on Sunday. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest Ms Y. Saraswati Rao, Chairperson, Andhra Mahila Sabha said that due to rapid urbanization, road widening, development and so on, we are losing green cover and planting of the trees should be taken up as it is need of the hour and there is a need for collaboration with government on this. The Andhra Mahila Sabha principal, Ms Durga, has questioned whether our grand children can enjoy nature as we are enjoying today. She urged upon youth to become worthy citizens and contribute to the country and society. The tree sapling planted at Andhra Mahila Sabha today as part of the Oneness Green Project will be cared and nurtured by the NSS units I & II of their college, she informed. The project involves planting, caring and growing one crore trees across India in 16 states. Over 500 registered centers of Oneness with highly motivated and dedicated volunteers will focus on areas such as Village backyards, Rural & Urban schools, Colleges, Canal Banks, Housing colonies, public places, etc. for planting trees. The Oneness Green Project will cover 16 states across India viz. Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The Oneness Green Project will go a long way in providing green cover for India. Tree planting taken up by Oneness is unique because it involves planting, caring and growing involving citizens and community providing a common cause for the betterment of environment for the generations to come. It is a pity that of all the species on the planet, the most evolved and the most intelligent of them all – Humans – have caused the greatest damage to Earth. In pursuit of comfort and convenience, we have forgotten that Earth is the only home to us and all the other living beings. Though there is no overnight solution to the world’s ecological problems, the simplest and the most effective is to grow trees. Trees not only impact the local environment, they help in regenerating the ecological process. Planting trees is the most effective action one can take to truly heal the environment informed Mr. Nagraj, Secretary of Sri Amma Bhagavan Youth Seva Samithi, Bhagayanagar. According to US Forest Service, planting 100 million trees could reduce an estimated 18 million tons of carbon per year. Over a 50-year lifespan, a tree generates almost $32,000 worth of oxygen, providing $62,000 worth of air pollution control. This tree would also be responsible for recycling $37,500 worth of water and controlling $31,000 worth of soil erosion. The Worldwatch Institute, in its Reforesting the Earth paper, estimated that the earth needs at least 321 million acres of trees planted just to restore and maintain the productivity of soil and water resources, annually remove 780 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere and meet industrial and fuel wood needs in the third world. For every ton of new-wood growth, about 1.5 tons of CO2 are removed from the air and 1.07 tons of life-giving oxygen is produced. For further information, Mr. Nagraj, Green Project Coordinator, Sri Amma Bhagavan Youth Seva Samithi, Hyderabad can be reached on Mobile 7569095687. (NSS)

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By Ella Davies

Reporter, BBC Nature

Stick insects have lived for one million years without sex, genetic research has revealed.

 

Scientists in Canada investigated the DNA of Timema stick insects, which live in shrubland around the west coast of the US.

 

They traced the ancient lineages of two species to reveal the insects’ lengthy history of asexual reproduction.

 

The discovery could help researchers understand how life without sex is possible.

 

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Asexuality does not always result in the rapid extinction of a lineage”

 

Dr Tanja Schwander

Simon Fraser University, Canada

Scientists from Simon Fraser University, Canada, published their results in the journal Current Biology.

 

Certain species of Timema stick insects were known to reproduce asexually, with females producing young in “virgin births” without the need for egg fertilisation by males.

 

The insects instead produce genetic clones of themselves.

 

Dr Tanja Schwander and her team set out to test how old these species were, and therefore to find out how long they had reproduced in this way.

 

By analysing the DNA of the insects, scientists were able to trace back their lineages to identify when they became a distinct species.

 

The team discovered that five of the asexual stick insects were “ancient”, dating back more than 500,000 years. Two of them were even older.

 

 

Timema genevievae is a female-only species of stick insect

“All the evidence points to Timema tahoe and Timema genevievae having persisted for over one million years without sex,” Dr Schwander told BBC Nature.

 

“Our research adds to the growing amount of evidence that asexuality does not always result in the rapid extinction of a lineage,” she said.

 

In the past, asexual reproduction has been associated with “evolutionary dead ends” because the lineages of organisms studied were often short-lived.

 

In more recent studies, tiny invertebrates called bdelloid rotifers and darwinulid ostracods were described as long-established asexuals by scientists investigating fossil records.

 

But there has been ongoing controversy surrounding these ancient asexuals. Further study suggested that asexuality was, in some cases, likely to have been a recent adaptation.

 

Asexual survival

Dr Schwander and her team’s genetic analysis confirmed that their stick insects have a long female-only history.

 

“Timema are indeed the oldest insects for which there is good evidence that they have been asexual for long periods of time,” said Dr Schwander.

 

Comparing sexual and asexual species of stick insect could teach scientists more about how organisms survive without sex.

 

Asexuality does bring certain benefits, including rapid population growth. But the repeated cloning of genes through generations is thought to have significant negative consequences too.

 

This replication means that species are less able to adapt to new environments through “shuffling and tweaking” of genes.

 

Dr Schwander said: “Why Timema asexuals have been able to persist for so long despite all the predicted negative consequences of asexuality is the focus of ongoing studies.”

 

Hyderabad, July 23 (NSS): Sresta Natural Bioproducts today announced a month-long campaign “Freedom from Pesticides” initiating the fight against pesticide ridden food. The campaign was flagged off by farmers at Sresta’s organic destination store 24 Letter Mantra.
Ms Amala Akkineni, Blue Cross founder, offered her solidarity to the cause by her presence. The campaign aims to create awareness about ill- effects of pesticide contaminated food and promote organic food as the best alternative for being healthy. Organic farming practices restore soil purity, enhance soil aeration and water retention capacity and thereby are the optimal way to assert commitment to the ecosystem.
During the campaign, the consumers can bring in any conventional food products (which are grown with pesticides) and in exchange will be given tasty 24Letter Mantra food products free of cost. There is also a special invitation pack available at attractive prices enabling consumers to experience the organic phenomenon. An ongoing Cookery Competition encourages customer to send in recipes using the organic products will take place throughout the month and the best 10 recipes will be compiled into a book and launched at the closure of the campaign on August 15 this year on the occasion of India’s Independence Day. Interesting offers will be available across all products throughout the month.
Mr Raj Shekhar Reddy, Managing Director – Sresta, stated “Organic is more than just a label, it is a lifestyle and it starts from the moment food products are grown. At Sresta we are passionate about nourishing and enriching lives with a variety of great-tasting, convenient and healthful products grown domestically. We hope everyone will utilize the opportunity of larger selections of our current products and the newly launched products. The “Freedom from Pesticides” initiative highlights our dedication to this cause by offering food materials which are devoid of pesticides or other harmful products to society. It is a step towards enhancing the quality of lives of customers, people and farmers through a unique model where we are actively involved at each stage.
Mr N. Balasubramanian, CEO - Sresta elaborated on “Freedom from Pesticides” initiative. He said, “We intend to double area under organic farming from current network of 10,000 farmers, cultivating 30,000 acres to 50,000.  Further, we are introducing new products like soups, snacks, breakfast cereals and health products.”
            Ms Amala Akkineni buying these products from 24 Letter Mantra store which is nearby, says that “Going organic is a brilliant idea because it comes from the ground where you live and that has a very positive effect on oneself.  I’ve been using these products from a long time and I am completely into organic food, the more local and intimate they are, the more positive effect you will get.”
Sresta does  organic farming with small farmers in 11 states across India ---AP, Orissa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, UP, North East and process about 8000 MT of materials marketed in about 30 cities in India, Europe, US, Canada and Australia.” Sresta works with domestic farmers to ensure that all Organic products are the same high-quality, great-tasting products now grown under strict USDA organic standards, without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. (NSS)
Hyderabad, July 18 (NSS): The Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) is
organising a two-week training programme for participants from the SAARC countries on ‘Techniques
of Water Conservation and Rain Water Harvesting for Drought Management’ which was inaugurated
by Vice Chairman, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) Mr M. Shashidhar Reddy in the
city today.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Shashidhar Reddy said that many parts of South Asian region
have experienced droughts in the past. Though India has indigenous knowledge in watershed
management, a scientific approach towards water conservation is the need of the day as it would
bridge the gap between agriculture supply and produce. He said the organisation of such workshops
would impart necessary skills and information to the participants on water conservation and thereby
effective drought management. A publication on ‘District Disaster Management Plan’ was released on
the occasion.
Speaking about other initiatives of NDMA, which was established post tsunami in 2004 to
develop appropriate response system to natural disasters, he said, India will soon be acquiring aircrafts
for weather reconnaissance. This would enhance the accuracy of predictions as aircrafts would fly over
the eye of the cyclone and gather technical parameters.
About 24 delegates from the SAARC countries are participating in this workshop which would
focus on Water conservation and management for drought management, Effect of climate change
on water availability, Rain water management in different agro-ecological settings, Design of water
harvesting structures, Ground Water recharge, Farm machinery for soil and water conservation
Earlier, Mr S.M. Virmani, Agrometeorologist (Emeritus), ICRISAT delivered the presidential
address during which he emphasised the need for growing more crops per drop of water and
networking among the South Asian countries to blunt the damages caused by climate change. Mr B.
Venkateswarlu, Director, CRIDA and other senior officers of the institute were present on the
occasion. (NSS)

Hyderabad, July 17 (NSS): “Swecha”, an NGO organized a Plastic Awareness Walk in the Kasu Brahmananda Reddi (KBR) Park here on Sunday. The aim of the walk was to create awareness about the ill-effects of indiscriminate use of plastic in day-to-day life.

The City Mayor, Ms Banda Kartika Reddy, the Lok Satta Party chief, Dr Jaya Prakash Narayan, and several film artistes participated in the walk. Participants said environment pollution should be stopped by doing away with the use of plastic. They said it was our duty to hand over a clean environment to posterity and asserted that ban of plastic would be beneficial to all sections of the people. (NSS)