Current Affairs – March, 2019

Increasing levels of Carbon dioxide and Wheat productivity

Scientists are worried over sustaining food production and productivity of major crops like wheat, paddy, and maize due to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Studies have shown that even though increased carbon dioxide levels stimulate wheat productivity, the consequent rise in temperatures would have a negative impact.

There has been optimism in tropical countries like Greenland, Canada, Northern China and Europe where annual temperatures are currently well below the optimum range for the growth of wheat and an increase in temperature would be beneficial to them with a possibility of a hike in wheat productivity. Whereas in tropical countries like India there is heightened concern as it is already hot enough and further rises in temperature could prove disastrous.

Study by Indian Institute of Technology- Kharagpur

The Indian Institute of Technology- Kharagpur explored the possibility of nutrient management as a way to sustain wheat productivity even at higher concentrations of carbon dioxide by creating an artificial carbon dioxide-rich environment and applied different levels of nitrogen to wheat crop along with the recommended dosage of fertilizers. The findings of the study are:

  • Wheat yield and growth parameters improved with increasing levels of nitrogen application despite elevated carbon dioxide conditions and higher temperatures.
  • Under ambient carbon dioxide concentration, increasing the dosage of nitrogen did not bring any improvement in growth and yield of the crop.
  • Elevated carbon dioxide levels increased crop growth rate and the fraction of leaf biomass and leaf nitrogen, especially with the nitrogen management using chemical fertilizer.

The study concludes that Wheat production under the elevated carbon dioxide environment in Eastern India might be maintained or improved through the normal and increased dose of nitrogen fertilizer application. However, there is a need for larger studies on the field with multi-location trials using different varieties, before any firm conclusion can be reached.

Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019

The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare has notified the Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 with an aim to promote clinical research in the country.

Features of the New Rules

  • The new rules reduce the time for approving applications to 30 days for drugs manufactured in India and 90 days for those developed outside the country.
  • The new rules state that in case of no communication from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), the application will be deemed to have been approved.
  • The new rules will ensure patient safety, as they would be enlisted for trials with informed consent and the ethics committee will monitor the trials and decide on the amount of compensation in cases of adverse events.
  • The new rules mandates that in case of injury to the clinical trial subject, medical management will be provided as long as required as per the opinion of the investigator or till such time it is established that the injury is not related to the clinical trial.
  • Compensation in cases of death and permanent disability or other injuries to a trial subject will be decided by the Drug Controller General.
  • The rules also waive off the requirement of a local clinical trial if the drug is approved and marketed in countries specified by the DCGI with the approval of government from time to time and certain other conditions.
  • The DCGI has waived off the clinical trial for the drugs approved and marketed in the European Union, the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan and the US.

The new rules aim to promote clinical research in India by providing for a predictable, transparent and effective regulation for clinical trials and by ensuring faster accessibility of new drugs to the Indian population.