Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Neem patents

The neem tree in full bloom in Bikaner. Across India the neem tree, and its leaves, bark, flowers, and fruit, are used in traditional medicine, religious ceremonies, and food preparations. Its Latin name is Azadirachta Indica, which is based on the Persian term for this ancient Indian tree: Azad-daracht-e-Hind or free (standing) tree of India.

In Rajasthan it is said that the temperature under a Neem tree is always two or three degrees cooler than in the shade of any other tree. Neem twigs are used for cleaning the teeth and gums, its leaves keep away moths and termite, neem bark paste is used for treating skin problems like eczema, psoriasis, ulcers. Animals eat Neem leaves as fodder in the desert regions of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and the seeds of the fruit are ground to make a natural pesticide.

While Indians have used neem for medicinal purposes in wound healing, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and skin care, US companies appear more interested in obtaining neem patents in the areas of biodiesel production, fertilizers, dental formulations, food packaging, and pharmaceutical compositions. A new study by Dolcera has confirmed that India has indeed lived up to the competitive neem research and development efforts from the West. The study reveals that while the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has the single most neem patents, individuals (41.84%) and private companies (31.63%) hold the majority of neem patents in India. Government institutes (which include CSIR, the Defense Research and Development Organization, and others) hold 26.53% of patents on India’s ancient asset.

Monday, August 03, 2009


Eating rat meat

Excessive meat eating increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and is generally bad for health. It is also bad for the environment and may put a strain on our ability to feed the increasing global population. The livestock that we eat, consume grasses and grain, which need to be produced on land and it is estimated that 8 kg of grain is required to produce 1 kg of meat. The tradition of eating domesticated animals in temperate countries is different from countries located in warmer climes; thus in the west livestock provided food in the lean winter months, while this was not the case in tropical countries, where plant food was available throughout the year.

In the Indian context, affluence and higher class status, led to dietary restrictions while the lower classes indiscriminately ate the meat of numerous animals. In the west affluence led to more meat eating, and now this has become the case in modern India as well. People eat meat because they are conditioned to do so, for the taste, or for the protein. This businessworld article says that per capita meat consumption in India could reach 18 kg in 2020, compared to 10-12 kg now. According to some estimates, the available fodder can meet the demand of only 40 per cent of livestock. One solution for increasing demands of meat could be met by rat meat, like in Cambodia:

Rat meat is rich in protein and tastier than chicken. A traditional rat eating community in India, called Musahars, usually hunt rats in paddy fields. Eating rat meat would control the rat population, which consumes a large portion of precious foodgrain stocks. Those who eat meat for its taste, or for the protein, should get over any stigma associated with eating rats and do their bit to reduce the pressure on land, and save the environment!

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