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Current Affairs 2017

Delhi Police chief Alok Verma appointed new CBI Director

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shri Alok Kumar Verma as the new CBI Director. His appointment will be for a period of two years from the date of assumption of charge of his office. Shri Alok Kumar Verma, currently Delhi Police commissioner, is a 1979 batch Indian Police Service officer of the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre.

Employment News

181 Pet PI ASC, C/o 56 APO, www.persmin.nic/dopt.asp invites applications for Tradesman Mate 02 psots (UR-01 post, SC/ST-01) Fireman 06 posts (UR-04, SC/ST-01post, OBC-01) Refer website or Employment News dated 7-13 Jan 2017...

Genetically Modified Food or Crops

Genetic Modification

Genetic modification refers to techniques used to manipulate the genetic composition of an organism by adding specific useful genes. A gene is a sequence of DNA that contains information that determines a particular characteristic/trait. All organisms have DNA (genes). Genes are located in chromosomes. Genes are units of inheritance that are passed from one generation to the next and provide instructions for development and function of the organism. Crops that are developed through genetic modification are referred to as genetically modified (GM) crops, transgenic crops or genetically engineered (GE) crops.

Over the last 30 years, the field of genetic engineering has developed rapidly due to the greater understanding of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) as the chemical double helix code from which genes are made. The term genetic engineering is used to describe the process by which the genetic makeup of an organism can be altered using “recombinant DNA technology.” This involves the use of laboratory tools to insert, alter, or cut out pieces of DNA that contain one or more genes of interest.

Genetically Modified crops

Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. In most cases the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop.

Development of transgenic crops

Although there are many diverse and complex techniques involved in genetic engineering, its basic principles are reasonably simple. There are five major steps in the development of a genetically engineered crop. But for every step, it is very important to know the biochemical and physiological mechanisms of action, regulation of gene expression, and safety of the gene and the gene product to be utilized. Even before a genetically engineered crop is made available for commercial use, it has to pass through rigorous safety and risk assessment procedures.

The first step is the extraction of DNA from the organism known to have the trait of interest. The second step is gene cloning, which will isolate the gene of interest from the entire extracted DNA, followed by mass-production of the cloned gene in a host cell. Once it is cloned, the gene of interest is designed and packaged so that it can be controlled and properly expressed once inside the host plant. The modified gene will then be mass-produced in a host cell in order to make thousands of copies. When the gene package is ready, it can then be introduced into the cells of the plant being modified through a process called transformation. The most common methods used to introduce the gene package into plant cells include biolistic transformation (using a gene gun) or Agrobacterium-mediated transformation. Once the inserted gene inserted stable, inherited, and expressed in subsequent generations, then the plant is considered a transgenic. Backcross breeding is the final step in the genetic engineering process, where the transgenic crop is bred and selected in order to obtain high quality plants that express the inserted gene in a desired manner.

The length of time in developing transgenic plant depends upon the gene, crop species, available resources, and regulatory approval. It may take 6-15 years before a new transgenic hybrid is ready for commercial release.

Uses

GM crops grown today, or under experimental development, have been modified with traits intended to provide benefit to farmers, consumers, or industry. These traits include improved shelf life, disease resistance, stress resistance, herbicide resistance, and pest resistance, production of useful goods such as biofuel or drugs, and ability to absorb toxins, for use in bioremediation of pollution.

Regulation of the release of genetically modified crops

Governments have taken different approaches to assess and manage the risks associated with the use of engineering technology and the development and release of genetically modified organisms (GMO), including genetically modified crops and genetically modified fish. There are differences in the regulation of GMOs between countries, with some of the most marked differences occurring between the USA and Europe. Regulation varies in a given country depending on the intended use of the products of the genetic engineering. For example, a crop not intended for food use is generally not reviewed by authorities responsible for food safety. The basic concepts for the safety assessment of foods derived from GMOs have been developed in close collaboration under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations' World Health Organization(WHO) and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). In 2003 the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the FAO/WHO adopted a set of "Principles and Guidelines on foods derived from biotechnology" to help countries coordinate and standardize regulation of GM food to help ensure public safety and facilitate international trade and updated its guidelines for import and export of food in 2004.

The release of transgenic crops in India is governed by the Indian Environment Protection Act, which was enacted in 1986. The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBSC), Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) all review any genetically modified organism to be released, with transgenic crops also needing permission from the Ministry of Agriculture. India regulators cleared the Bt Brinjal, a genetically modified eggplant, for commercialization in October 2009. Following opposition from some scientists, farmers and environmental groups a moratorium was imposed on its release in February 2010.There have been four official reports on GMO in India till August 2013 ,1)The ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’ - February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal 2) The Sopory Committee Report - August 2012. 3) The Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops - August 2012. 4) Final Report of The Technical Expert Committee established by Supreme Court - July 2013.

Author: Dr. Sujata Roy
Assistant Professor,
Biotechnology Department.
Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai

Atal Pension Yojana (APY)

The Finance Minister has announced a new initiative called Atal Pension Yojana (APY) in his Budget Speech for 2015-16. The APY will be focussed on all citizens in the unorganised sector, who join the National Pension System (NPS) administered by the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) and who are not members of any statutory social security scheme. Under the APY, the subscribers would receive the fixed pension of Rs. 1000 per month, Rs. 2000 per month, Rs. 3000 per month, Rs. 4000 per month, Rs. 5000 per month, at the age of 60 years, depending on their contributions, which itself would vary on the age of joining the APY. The minimum age of joining APY is 18 years and maximum age is 40 years. Therefore, minimum period of contribution by the subscriber under APY would be 20 years or more. The benefit of fixed pension would be guaranteed by the Government. The Central Government would also co-contribute 50% of the subscriber’s contribution or Rs. 1000 per annum, ...

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What is ISO (International Organization for Standardization)?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is the world’s largest developer of voluntary International Standards. International Standards give state of the art specifications for products, services and good practice, helping to make industry more efficient and effective. Developed through global consensus, they help to break down barriers to international trade. What it do? ISO develops International Standards. We were founded in 1947, and since then have published more than 19 500 International Standards covering almost all aspects of technology and business. From food safety to computers, and agriculture to healthcare, ISO International Standards impact all our lives.

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History of Indian Cinema

India's first film "Raja Harischandra", a silent movie was first screened at Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theater on May 3, 1913. It was made by Dadasaheb Phalke, the father of Indian Cinema. It was Phalke who introduced India to world cinema at a time when working in films was restricted by social customs. After the success of his film 'Raja Harishchandra', several filmmakers in Bombay and Madras began making silent films. By the mid 1920s, Madras had become the epicenter for all film related activities. Raghupathi Venkaiah Naidu, S S Vasan, A V Meiyappan set up production houses in Madras to shoot Telugu and Tamil films. The silent era came to an end when Ardeshir Irani produced his first talkie, 'Alam Ara' in 1931. If Phalke was the father of Indian cinema, Irani was the father of the talkie. The talkies changed the face of Indian cinema. Apart from looks, the actors not only needed a commanding voice but also singing skills, as music became a defining element in Indian cinema. The ...

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Career Scope in Print Media

Print media are lightweight, portable, disposable publications printed on paper and circulated as physical copies in forms we call books, newspapers, magazines and newsletters. They hold informative and entertaining content that is of general or special interest. They are published either once or daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, bimonthly or quarterly. Print Media is the oldest form of media. But even today it is growing from strength to strength. Around 4000 small, medium and large newspapers and magazines across the county are registered with the Registrar of Newspapers every year. This indicates that it is a growing sector where employment opportunities are increasing with each passing day. Most of the young aspirants who want to enter the print media prefer reporting, but newspapers and magazines also seek young talent as photographers, artists, editors, computer experts, librarians, and cartoonists. Students who have writing ability, graphics or photo skills, curiosity and deter ...

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