The proposed march of Jat protesters to Delhi on Monday in support of their demands, including reservation under the Other Backward Classes, was called off after the government promised to expedite the process of granting reservation to the community and meet their other demands in a time-bound manner.The decision was taken following a marathon meeting of Jat leaders with Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union Ministers at Haryana Bhawan here on Sunday.Two rounds of talksFollowing two rounds of talks with Mr. Khattar, Union Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh and Union Minister of State for Law and Justice P.P. Chaudhary, Akhil Bharatiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti national president Yashpal Malik made an announcement in the evening calling off the proposed march and adding that most of the ongoing dharnas across Haryana would also be lifted by March 26. He, however, said that a few token dharnas by members of the samiti would continue till their demands were actually met. Meanwhile, 18 police personnel, including an SP and a DSP, were among 35 injured when Jat protesters clashed with the police on being prevented from marching towards Delhi.Mr. Khattar told a press conference that the process to include the community in the Central list of OBC category would be initiated soon after the chairman and the other members of the National Commission for Backward Classes were appointed.He also agreed to initiate the process to include the Jats quota law in the ninth schedule of the Constitution after the Punjab and Haryana High Court case pertaining to their reservation in the State was settled.“We have also decided to review the cases registered against the members of the community during the Jat reservation agitation since 2010. Besides, the next of kin of those killed and those handicapped during the violence last year would be given regular government jobs and ex gratia would be disbursed to the injured at the earliest,” said Mr. Khattar.The Chief Minister also assured Jat leaders that the role of officials during the violence would be investigated and action initiated against the guilty.Mr. Chaudhary said the Union government would act as per law to grant reservation to the community so that it stood legal scrutiny.Meanwhile Jat protesters prevented from marching to Delhi set fire to two police buses during the clash that took place in Dhani Gopal village on the Sirsa-Hisar-Delhi national highway.Fatehabad’s SP O.P. Narwal, who sustained minor injury on his hand, said 18 police personnel, including two women, were injured in the incident.“A woman ASI and a woman constable were among the injured police personnel,” he said.
The body of a Maoist has been recovered from the site where 25 CRPF personnel were killed earlier this week in an ambush by the rebels in Burkapal area of Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district.“The body of a Naxalite was recovered last night from the forest, just 500 metres away from the spot where the gun battle had taken place between the CRPF and the rebels on April 24,” Special Director General of Police (anti-Naxal operations) D M Awasthi told PTI.Acting on reports of the movement of Maoists in the area after the ambush, the security forces were carrying out the combing operations, he said.While cordoning off a forested patch in Burkapal area last night, the patrolling team recovered the body of the Maoist who was reported to be killed in the ambush, Mr. Awasthi said.The body was yet to be identified, he said.Following the ambush, there were reports of death of several other Maoists in the gunfight but the rebels managed to drag the bodies inside the forest.The search operation is underway in the interiors of the region to trace the ultras involved in the incident, the senior police officer said.On April 24, as many as 25 CRPF personnel were killed and seven others injured when the Naxals attacked a patrol party of 74th battalion of the paramilitary force near Burkapal village of Sukma, around 450 kms away from Raipur.Besides, 12 men of the para-military force were killed in an earlier attack near Bheji village in the same district on March 11.The CRPF is set to overhaul its anti-Naxal operations in the south Bastar in the aftermath of one of the biggest attacks on the force in the state on Monday and a fresh offensive is expected to be launched soon.
Panaji: The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) will double 147 km tracks and develop 21 more railway stations under an ambitious expansion and modernisation project of worth ₹3,000 crores, Mr. Josehp E George, General Manager (Strategic Planning and Business Development), KRCL, said here on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference, Mr. George said of the 147 km line to be doubled, 35 km would be in Goa sector. This project will also comprise electrification at a cost of ₹1,110 crores.After doubling of the tracks, 21 new stations would be developed taking the total number of stations to 87, which would reduce the average distance between two stations from 12.75 km to 8.3 km.‘’This will enable us to introduce more new trains in the system,” he said.The Konkan railway connects the Konkan region of Maharashtra to Kerala via Goa and Karnataka and passes through 94 tunnels in its 736 km stretch. On the financial performance of KRCL, Mr. George said the corporation earned a profit of ₹62 crore in the recently-ended financial year during which is turnover touched ₹2,164 crores as against the turnover for the corresponding period last year of ₹1,277 crores giving an annual growth of 69%.Mr. George said the work on Multi Modal Logistics Park is being developed at Balli station in South Goa. Its work was progressing and was expected to be completed by end of this year or early next year. There are plans to develop a food court at Margao station in Goa. A rail coach has been shifted near the station and would be developed as a unique restaurant.
In a major catch, a sharpshooter linked with the Chhota Rajan gang was nabbed in Lucknow in an operation by the Special Task Force, the Uttar Pradesh police said on Saturday.Khan Mubarak was arrested after an STF team intercepted him in the Jhiljhilpurwa area near Sultanpur Road on Friday. Mubarak is wanted in several murder cases. The police recovered more than a dozen weapons, including seven pistols, four rifles (each of 12 bore) and 56 cartridges, a police spokesperson said.The STF team launched the operation after being tipped off that an extortionist and his aides were active in parts of UP.Mubarak already faces as many as 22 cases registered in various police stations in Allahabad and Ambedkar Nagar, his native district.The charges against him include murder, attempt to murder, criminal conspiracy and other cases under the Gangsters Act.
After an uncertainty of several days, organisers of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017 finally relented and have now written to Sanal Sasidharan, director of S. Durga to submit a censored copy of the film for consideration.A spokesperson for the filmmaker said here on Saturday that the required documents and film copies would be submitted to the IFFI organisers.A letter written by Sunil Tandon, director of IFFI, in this regard was uploaded on a social media site by Mr. Sasidharan late on Friday.As per HC directionsThe letter requested the director to submit copies of the film to the festival authorities, as per directions of the Kerala High Court.“In this connection you are requested to kindly provide the censored version of ‘S… Durga’ in 35mm print/DCP, Blue-ray, along with two DVD copies to IFFI, Goa. Please also submit a copy of the censor certificate,” Mr. Tandon’s letter said.Kannan Nayar, lead actor of the film told reporters here on Saturday that copies of the film as well as the censor certificate would be submitted to Mr. Tandon’s office.“We are waiting for the censor certificate to come from Kerala, after which we will submit all the required documents and film copies to the IFFI director,” Mr. Nayar said.This is one of the two films which were dropped from the screening schedule of IFFI’s Indian Panorama section leading to a big controversy.On Friday the Kerala High Court, despite a request from the Union Ministry for Information and Broadcasting, had also refused to stay its earlier orderThe cast of the film, which is present at the festival had accused IFFI organisers of succumbing to political pressure in not responding to the court directive that film be screened at the IFFI.
Former Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga has filed a criminal case against a Congress leader for alleging he had a hand in the death of a pastor 10 years ago.Thansanga, an Aizawl-based Congress leader, had in the party’s Mizo language bulletin published a report on the “mysterious death” of Reverend Chanchinmawia in October 2007. The reverend was the moderator of Mizoram Presbyterian Synod and pastor of Aizawl’s Khatla Presbyterian Church.“The bulletin came out a few days ago and went viral after the piece of news alleging my involvement in the church leader’s death was uploaded on social media. I filed a case on Thursday because it is a baseless allegation made to tarnish my reputation,” Mr. Zoramthanga told The Hindu on Friday.In his complaint filed with chief judicial magistrate H. Lalduhsanga, the former Chief Minister said he had been accused of being the mastermind in the pastor’s murder.“I have also filed a criminal case against the editor and publisher of the bulletin,” Mr. Zoramthanga said.Rev. Chanchinmawia was on October 1, 20017 found dead in his official residence with multiple injuries on his head and chest. The Mizo National Front, of which Mr. Zoramthanga is the president, was in power then.The Mizoram police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) could not find any evidence to support the homicide angle and had concluded the pastor had committed suicide.The case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation in 2008. The CBI too found no evidence of foul play but trashed the SIT’s suicide theory.Rev Chanchinmawia, members of the Presbyterian Church said, was a very vocal campaigner for socio-political reforms in Mizoram.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday lauded an Assamese entrepreneur whose start-up was working on a technology to treat water wasted while refining crude oil.Hemendra Chandra Das, who headed the start-up Innotech Interactions Private Limited, had won the Indo-Israel Innovative Challenge for this technology based on an electro-biochemical system. “Yours is an example of how the young generation can generate ideas and transform the nation through new technology,” the Prime Minister said at an interaction with 35 start-up entrepreneurs through video conference at the office of Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner Virendra Mittal.The entrepreneurs had earlier been briefed about the Assam Start-up Policy aimed at encouraging young innovators. Manjula Saikia Bhuyan, additional director of Industries and Commerce, said they were also made aware of an innovation centre to be opened soon in Guwahati. Officials said the centre will provide handholding support to entrepreneurs.
Authorities in Tripura on Sunday restored Internet access, three days after the government ordered suspension of services following the lynching of three people, including a woman, in wake of child lifting rumours spread through social media. On June 28, Internet services were cut for 48 hours, but the measure was extended for another 48 hours on the advice from security agencies.Tripura witnessed unprecedented rumours on presence of child traffickers, triggering mob fury in several parts of the State. Twenty people sustained injuries, besides three deaths, in at least eleven reported incidents under various police stations.The rumours spread through social media platforms after the murder of an 11-year-old boy in Sidhai area, north of here, on June 26. Fake information that the boy’s kidneys were removed and State Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath’s subsequent comment that an international kidney smuggling racket was responsible for the murder aggravated the situation.Chief Minister Biplab Deb on Sunday urged the media to act cautiously while reporting on sensitive issues. He said the incidents should not come in the way of development initiatives adopted by the State’s BJP-led coalition government.
A 12-year-old rape victim, who was molested along with another minor girl of her age by two youths in Pune’s Kasarsai area, died late Wednesday night, said medical sources at the Sassoon General Hospital.The crime, which occurred in Kasarsai, 10 km from Hinjewadi on Sunday afternoon, came to light after one of the victims was rushed to the hospital after complaining of severe weakness.According to medical sources, the girl slid into a coma and passed away late Wednesday between 10:30-11 p.m. The body would be sent for post-mortem today.The Hinjewadi police have arrested a 22-year-old youth by the name of Ganesh Nikam, along with a 17-year-old juvenile identified as Omkar Lekurwade for the double rape. Both victims and the accused are children of labourers, said police.“The crime had occurred late Sunday afternoon between 3:30 and 4:00 pm after the girls, who were playing on the premises of the Sant Tukaram Maharaj Temple at Kasarsai, were lured by the accused who gave them chocolates. ‘Dire consequences’The minors were then abducted to a secluded area behind the temple where they were molested in turns by the two youths,” said senior inspector Shivaji Gaware, in-charge of the Hinjewadi police station.He said that the victims were threatened with dire consequences if they reported the horrific incident to their parents.
Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have reviewed the arrangements for the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas beginning July 1, officials said on Wednesday.The 46-day yatra is scheduled to begin on the twin routes – traditional Pahalgam track in Anantnag district and the shorter Baltal track in Ganderbal district – on July 1, the day of ‘Masik Shivratri’.It will conclude on August 15, the day of ‘Shravan Purnima’ and ‘Raksha Bandhan’.“Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor and Chief Executive Officer, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), chaired a meeting of the heads of various departments here on Tuesday to discuss the arrangements for the yatra,” the officials said.They said a detailed discussion was held on security, accommodation, traffic, water, power, food, hygiene and sanitation. The registration for the yatra commenced on April 2 through 440 designated branches of the Punjab National Bank, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and the YES Bank, located in 32 States and Union Territories.“The SASB, which manages the yatra, has approved a proposal for online registration of a limited number of intending pilgrims each day on a pilot basis,” the officials said. They said children aged below 13 and above 75 and pregnant women (more than six weeks of pregnancy) can not register for the yatra. “Those who plan to travel by helicopter do not require advance registration and the chopper tickets would suffice. However, they will have to produce health certificate in the prescribed format before they are allowed to travel,” the officials said.Officials said that considering the carrying capacity of the two tracks and the available infrastructure, the board had decided that 7,500 yatris per day (on each route), excluding pilgrims travelling by helicopters, would be allowed to register in advance.The officials have directed the intending pilgrims to consider the terrain and climatic conditions in the high altitude region of the yatra and prepare themselves before embarking on the pilgrimage.
Veteran CPI leader and former Lok Sabha member Duti Krushna Panda died at a private hospital in Bhubaneswar on Sunday, family sources said. He was 97 and was survived by three sons and three daughters. Panda was elected to Lok Sabha from Bhanjanagara Parliamentary Constituency (presently Aska) in 1971. He was also elected to the State Assembly from Aska in 1990.
BANGKOK—Scientists have discovered a new type of the virus that causes a centuries-old pestilence, dengue. The surprising find, announced at a major dengue conference here today, is bound to complicate efforts to develop a vaccine against a tropical disease that is becoming a more pervasive global menace. But it could shed light on where the pathogen came from and whether it is evolving into a greater threat. The finding “may change the way we think about dengue virus evolution and emergence,” says Duane Gubler, a dengue expert at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.There is no vaccine or drug against dengue, which is spread by mosquitoes and causes fever and sometimes excruciating joint pain and muscle aches. Patients typically recover on their own, though severe cases need medical support. Occasionally, the illness progresses to dengue hemorrhagic fever, a potentially fatal complication in which blood leaks through vessel walls. A dengue infection confers lifetime immunity to that particular type. But subsequent infection with a second type increases the likelihood of serious illness. With that in mind, vaccine developers have strived to protect against all four types simultaneously.That may have gotten more challenging. By chance, researchers screening dengue viral samples found a virus collected during an outbreak in Malaysia’s Sarawak state in 2007 that they suspected was different from the four original serotypes. They sequenced the virus and found that it is phylogenetically distinct from the other four types. Experiments found that monkey antibodies produced against the new type differ significantly from those resulting from the previously known dengue viruses. “We discovered and characterized a new dengue serotype,” announced Nikos Vasilakis, a virologist at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, here today at the Third International Conference on Dengue and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)”They’ve done a very good job in characterizing the virus, and it’s convincing that it is distinct from the other four,” says Thomas Scott, a dengue expert at the University of California, Davis.What it may mean for controlling dengue is unclear. So far, dengue 5 has been linked to only one outbreak in humans. Vasilakis suspects that it is circulating, possibly among macaques, in the forests of Sarawak. If it spreads, it could make human vaccine development more challenging. “We don’t need another complication in controlling dengue,” Scott says.Current efforts to rein in the disease are falling short. In talks here today, researchers from Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand said that despite control programs launched in the 2000s, dengue cases are increasing, though the death toll is down thanks to better management of severe cases. “Dengue is spreading from urban to rural areas and to countries, such as Nepal, where it has not been seen before,” said Samlee Plianbangchang, the World Health Organization Southeast Asia regional director. The annual global incidence, close to 390 million cases, is about three times the burden previously estimated, researchers reported in April in Nature.Despite a recent setback in vaccine development, Plianbangchang said that projects in the pipeline have researchers “looking forward to a vaccine in the near future.” But he adds that a vaccine will complement, not replace, efforts to contain dengue through mosquito control and public awareness. “Dengue will be with us for many years and could get worse,” he said.
The German government should step in with legislation to regulate so-called dual use research of concern (DURC), the type of science that can benefit mankind but may be dangerous in the wrong hands, says a report issued today by the German Ethics Council. The government should set up a national committee to review DURC proposals in advance, says the report. In addition, the panel says action is needed to raise awareness about the issue, both at home and internationally.Critics of dual-use research welcomed the call for tighter regulations. “This is an admirable, comprehensive, and compelling report,” says Peter Hale, founder of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in Washington, D.C., who has lobbied for limiting dual-use research. The document, “for the first time, contains a set of substantive recommendations that will hopefully inform/inspire debate and action in other countries,” Hale writes in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. “The report should be required reading for governments around the world.”Some scientists, however, say the recommendations place needless burdens on researchers and may hamper science. Lars Schaade, vice president of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) in Berlin, says he supports some of the council’s proposals, such as developing a code of conduct for German scientists and compulsory biosecurity training, but does not see the need for new legislation and a national DURC committee. “Local committees at universities can review DURC proposals just as efficiently,” Schaade says, “and they may have more support from scientists.”Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The German government had asked the council to study the issue in the wake of the fierce debate over two studies a few years ago—one led by Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and the other by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, Madison—that sought to find out which genetic mutations make the H5N1 bird flu virus more easily transmissible between humans. Critics said that the studies, which were eventually published in Science and Nature, might help aspiring bioterrorists.The council’s 300-page report (PDF, in German; click here for a summary in English) says current regulations are insufficient. It says that German law should classify 10 types of research as DURC, such as studies that increase the transmissibility and infectious potential of a pathogen, expand its host range, make it more stable, or make it more difficult to detect.(That list is an expanded version of what researchers call the seven deadly sins, introduced in a landmark U.S. biosecurity report issued in 2004. The sins were ultimately formalized in several new sets of U.S. government rules requiring research funding agencies to screen proposals for DURC, and for researchers proposing certain kinds of DURC experiments to receive extra review from public funders. U.S. officials are also considering rules that would require universities to review DURC and develop plans for reducing risks.)In Germany, the council recommends that researchers be legally required to submit proposals to a new national DURC committee that would weigh the risks and benefits of the research; if rejected, the government and other funders should not support the work, it says.Stephan Becker, a virologist at the Philipps University of Marburg who has followed the debates closely, says he’s “impressed by the amount of work that went into this expert statement,” but not in favor of new laws to regulate scientists’ work. “Personally I do not believe that the demanded legislation will solve the problem,” Becker says. “In my opinion it is all about education, building of awareness, and communication.”RKI’s Schaade also objects to the idea, supported by some members of the council, to introduce an additional approval procedure, to be conducted by a federal authority such as RKI. RKI carries out research itself; getting involved in judging other researchers’ proposals might be regarded as a conflict of interest, he says. “What if we reject a proposal for some flu study and then a Robert Koch researcher gets a related study approved?” Schaade asks. “It would not be a good idea.”The council sees a guiding role for Germany internationally. Scientists and scientific organizations “should embark on an international process of reflection on the possible benefits and the risks of DURC,” the report says, and the government should try to reach an international agreement about DURC policy. Germany is also asked to lobby for DURC rules within the massive research programs of the European Union, with perhaps a DURC committee at the European level to review research proposals.The question is what the German government will do with the report. German science minister Johanna Wanka appeared noncommittal today. “We don’t want to immediately force something on the scientific community,” she was quoted as saying today by a website for physicians. “New legislation is the last link in the chain,” she said in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.That would be too bad, says virologist Simon Wain-Hobson of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, who testified before the council in August. “If virologists are unhappy, it is because they don’t want to face up to the changing world,” Wain-Hobson says. “We do need DURC committees.”
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