toxic taint: Green Indian seedless grapes have been taken off supermarket shelves in Belgium following the detection of high levels of pesticide residues in the product in the Netherlands recently. The Belgian Food Safety Authority took this decision over fears of high chemical residue levels, leading to stomach cramps in children. It has advised people who have bought the grapes not to eat them, but to return them to the shop from where they purchased it.
rescue effort: In a bid to save Keibul Lamjao National Park and Loktak lake located in Imphal, Manipur, a public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Imphal bench of the Guwahati High Court by Environment Protection Committee (EPC), a civil organisation. EPC contends that the gates of the Ithai barrage be lifted for a period of five years so that silt can be removed from Loktak lake. It has also asked for the construction of a ring bund on the periphery of the national park.
saying it with flowers: Mounting concern over the fast disappearing bumble-bee population has prompted a UK conservation charity to appeal to gardeners to plant more bee-friendly flowers. The species is on the verge of extinction, with its overall population declining by 60 per cent since 1970. Bee-friendly flowers include bluebells, rosemary, nettles, geraniums, foxgloves and honeysuckle.
caffeine blues: Here's a chilling update on coffee: it could be the cause of breast cancer, infertility, high-blood pressure and deformities in children. A World Health Organization survey notes that a regular dose of 300 milligrammes of caffeine intake through food and beverages can cause various diseases. Experts say that the effects of caffeine depend on dosage and individual sensitivity.
sars fallout: Even as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is coming to an end, a look at the economics of the disease is a cause for grave concern. The Asian Development Bank has estimated that the losses would range from US $12 billion to US $27.7 billion for east and Southeast Asia if SARS extends into the third quarter of 2003. Experts say that the death rate is also alarmingly high with 13.2 per cent among the young and middle-aged, and as many as 55 per cent in people over the age of 60.