Insect threatens crops
Farming in several nations is under threat from a type of crop-damaging insect that has munched its way from the Americas, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said yesterday, as global experts commence a three-day meeting to discuss ways to limit the damage. Fall armyworms are native to the Americas, but they have been moving eastward since 2016, sweeping across Africa, where they caused US$1 billion to US$3 billion in damage, before arriving in Asia. The flying insects arrived in India in July last year and have since spread to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and China’s Yunnan Province, the FAO said. They feed mostly on maize, for which China is the world’s second-largest producer, and can feed on several species of crops, including rice and sugarcane. An FAO meeting is taking place in Bangkok until tomorrow, with officials and experts discussing ways to limit armyworm infestations. The FAO said it is working with local authorities and training farmers to manage the pests by crushing egg masses and using biopesticides.
Trade talks to resume
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin are to return to Beijing next week, as the US and China inch toward resolving their trade dispute, a senior US official said on Tuesday. The renewed diplomacy is a sign of progress after several weeks in which momentum toward a resolution appeared to have slowed. Vice Premier Liu He (劉鶴) is to return to Washington the following week, the Wall Street Journal reported, adding that officials said talks were in their final stages.
Cloned dogs to save time
Scientists in Yunnan Province have cloned what they called the “Sherlock Holmes of police dogs” in a program they hope would help cut training times and costs for police dogs, state media reported yesterday. The dog, named Kunxun (昆勳), was cloned from a police sniffer dog by the Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Co and the Yunnan Agricultural University, with support from the Ministry of Public Security, the Global Times reported. Sinogene is hoping to make it possible to achieve “volume production” of cloned police dogs to significantly reduce training times, deputy general manager Zhao Jianping (趙建平) said. Kunxun, now three months old, is to undergo extensive training in drug detection, crowd control and searching for evidence, and would become a full-fledged police dog at about 10 months old, the China Daily said. Training usually takes about five years and costs as much as 500,000 yuan (US$74,622), with no guarantee of success, the paper said, citing an animal expert at the university.
Karadzic faces final ruling
UN appeals judges yesterday were to hand down a final verdict in the case of former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, a key figure in the Balkan wars who is serving a 40-year prison sentence for genocide. Karadzic, 73, was convicted in 2016 for the July 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces. He was also found guilty of leading a campaign of ethnic cleansing that drove Croats and Muslims out of Serb-claimed areas of Bosnia. Prosecutors are seeking a life sentence and a second genocide conviction for his alleged role in a policy of targeting non-Serbs in the early years of the war, while Karadzic is appealing against his conviction and wants a retrial.