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Global conflicts, economic crises, and extreme weather conditions have pushed the number of people who faced acute food insecurity to 155 million in 2020, the highest figure in five years, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other agencies said.
On Wednesday, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu called for “addressing the root causes of acute hunger, and for making agri-food systems more efficient, resilient, sustainable and inclusive”, reports Xinhua news agency.
The situation was described in the “2021 Global Report on Food Crises” issued by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance bringing together the UN’s FAO and World Food Program (WFP), the European Union (EU), governmental agencies and non-profit organizations.
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Presented at a virtual event, the report highlighted that acute food insecurity, the condition in which the inability to find adequate food puts the life and livelihood of a person in immediate danger, was spread across at least 55 countries and territories in 2020.
Among these, the most severe conditions were reported in Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and Yemen, where at least 133,000 people overall were in need of “urgent action to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihood”.
Since the first such report was issued in 2017, acute food insecurity has been on a constant rise.
Specific key factors were behind the levels seen last year, namely conflicts, economic shocks, and extreme weather conditions, the FAO explained in a joint statement with WFP and EU.
Wars represented the “main driver pushing almost 100 million people in acute food insecurity in 2020”, up from 77 million in the previous year.
In the second place came economic crises, which were “due to Covid-19” last year and replaced weather hazards as the second pulling factor, with more than 40 million people affected against 24 million in 2019.
The adverse weather events ranked third, which last year threatened over 15 million people, down from 34 million in 2019.
Overall, the context in which all these three factors had their effects was worsened by the pandemic, the global network’s founding members said in their joint statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the fragility of the global food system, and the need for more equitable, sustainable, and resilient systems to nutritiously and consistently feed 8.5 billion people by 2030,” the agencies said.
They also noted that prolonged food crises were proving how environmental, social, and economic trends combined with conflicts and insecurity “are eroding the resilience of agri-food systems”.
“If current trends are not reversed, food crises will increase in frequency and severity,” they said.
In the foreword of this year’s report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also called for “addressing hunger and conflict together” because these two conditions were mutually reinforcing.
“Addressing hunger is a foundation for stability and peace,” Guterres said. (IANS/KB)
Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies, which help the immune system recognize and fight viruses including SARS-CoV-2, bacteria and other causes of infectious disease. The gene -- FAM72A -- facilitates production of high-quality antibodies by enabling the effect of an enzyme called AID (for Activation-Induced Deaminase), the researchers showed.
Immunologists have known for two decades that AID is essential to produce antibodies capable of clearing infections, but the full mechanism of its effect has remained unknown. "Our findings answer the long-standing question of how AID does its work," said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine. "FAM72A helps AID to promote mutations in antibody genes that are essential for the development of effective antibodies," he added.
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. | Pixabay
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. In the context of antibody development, mutagenesis unfolds largely through the AID-driven mechanisms called somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination -- both of which help antibodies gain the diversity and potency they need to counter a wide range of pathogens.
The results published in the journal Nature will help researchers better understand antibody development broadly, but they also have implications for cancer. Uncontrolled mutagenesis in B cells that produce antibodies is linked to B cell lymphoma, and FAM72A is present at very high levels in other cancers such as gastrointestinal, breast, lung, liver and ovarian cancers.
"Our data show that high levels of FAM72A promote mutations in antibody genes, so increased levels of FAM72A could spur cancer development, progression or drug resistance by increasing mutagenesis,a Martin said. Martin's team is now exploring those possibilities. Intriguingly, unlike other mammals, humans have four gene versions of FAM72A and their roles in cancer and antibody production are still unknown. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: researchers, cancer, mutagenesis, antibody, development, antibodies, canada, COVID
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.
This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.
The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash
This 50 MW solar power project will reduce CO2 emission by 91,020 tonnes per annum and carbon offsets of around 24,824 tonnes per annum, claimed the MCL. MCL is the leading production subsidiary of Coal India, having mining operations in Angul, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts of Odisha. Having achieved the highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 2,419 crore in the financial year 2020-21, the company has coal production and dispatch targets of 163 million tonnes and 182 million tonnes, respectively.
MCL was the coal mining company to introduce environment-friendly surface miner technology, which contributes over 95 per cent in coal production. As another environment-friendly initiative, the company has successfully introduced vertical rippers for blast-less over-burden removal in Hingula and Kaniha opencast projects. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: solar plant, carbon neutrality, Odisha, Sambalpur, Coal India, subsidiary, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, solar energy
As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.
Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,
"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."
He then posted the picture followed by elaborate paragraphs. The megastar wrote,
"Those rare moments when one would find himself rushing against the winds to prevent the distance between us and to close it down as soon as it can be. The day of my wedding and his expression of fulfilment to not just be in congratulation but instead to be in the face of a belief, a chime, an ultimate season of love and great passion, of the quarries of the fears and conditionings of these deprived gym routines kart ..(sic)". "This could have been unknown for long facilitating years, to give not expected versions and lastly large scale informations of the insides ; but as time passed by, as does now , they explained purposely, the values of education and similarity .. Be in peace and love .. (sic)",
the veteran actor concluded his note. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amitabh Bachchan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, actor, blog, birth anniversary, 114th birthday