Residents Set Up Ornamental Fish Operations AgricultureMarch 30, 2012 By Alphea Saunders, JIS Senior Reporter RelatedResidents Set Up Ornamental Fish Operations RelatedResidents Set Up Ornamental Fish Operations FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail Enterprising residents of two-low income communities in Kingston have set up ornamental fish operations, through which they can earn income for themselves and their families. The entrepreneurs, from Jones Town and Tower Hill, were beneficiaries under the European Union (EU)-funded ‘Building Skills and Creating Wealth’ project, which was carried out from September 2011 to March 2012. The $13.5 million initiative, funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through its EU Poverty Reduction Programme, benefited 60 young men and women from the two communities. The aim was to develop a cluster of trained ornamental fish farmers, who could operate their own business. As a result of the training, and the skilled gained, 50 new ventures have started, with the fish farmers now part of the productive sector, and can begin to supply markets. At Wednesday’s (March 28) closing ceremony for the project held at the St. Andrew Parish Church Hall in Half-Way-Tree, where the 60 participants also received certificates, Head of The Competitiveness Company (TCC), which carried out the training, Dr. Beverly Morgan, pointed out that there is a large international market for tropical fish. The TCC will link the farmers with large exporters, who supply the lucrative overseas market. “There is a huge market out there, and you will never be able to access that market on your own. We envisage Jamaica shipping, when this programme is fully fledged, millions of fish per year. The demand is that great,” she stated. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry, in his address, said support for small, sustainable community projects, such as these, is important for the growth of the agricultural sector and reducing poverty. He noted that it was the diligence of the country’s 200,000 small farmers, who kept the domestic food sub-sector thriving, that saw consistent growth in the sector, even in the depths of the global recession. “I make that point, because sometimes, we believe that we can only succeed if we are big…but what the Ministry is supporting actively is that if we can go into communities and encourage and support enterprises that are sustainable and will make people earn money, that will cause less of our people to stand on the roadside and fool around. If we can encourage that, then cumulatively, those small steps that we make in these communities can have a massive impact, and can in fact, reduce poverty, reverse the rural urban drift, and create better communities and even improve social behaviour,” he argued. Mr. Stanberry said the government will continue to play its part in ensuring that the effort to develop the ornamental fish industry is sustained. He informed that the Fisheries Division has carried out similar training over the years and provided start-up grants, and gave the undertaking that the Veterinary Services Division will be available to provide services that will ensure the sustainability of the enterprises coming out of the project. Head of Operations, EU Delegation in Jamaica, Jesus Orus Baguena, in congratulating the farmers, stated that the project is “a beautiful example of what we are targeting. When creativity exists, opportunities are unveiled and with a little bit of extra help, we can change a difficult and trying environment into a new opportunity.” Thirty persons from each community benefitted under the project, who worked in collaboration to ensure that they all had support, which would allow them to be successful, and their enterprises sustainable. The training curriculum, carried out by TCC, was developed by the Australian National Aquaculture Institute, through funding from the Gates Foundation. The syllabus, which is internationally certified, is said to be the best such training available worldwide, for ornamental fish famers. RelatedResidents Set Up Ornamental Fish Operations Advertisements
Putting more meat on the theory that dinosaurs’ closest living relatives are modern-day birds, molecular analysis of a shred of 68 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex protein — along with that of 21 modern species — confirms that dinosaurs share common ancestry with chickens, ostriches, and to a lesser extent, alligators.The work, published this week in the journal Science, represents the first use of molecular data to place a non-avian dinosaur in a phylogenetic tree that traces the evolution of species. The scientists also report that similar analysis of 160,000- to 600,000-year-old collagen protein sequences derived from mastodon bone establishes a close phylogenetic relationship between that extinct species and modern elephants.“These results match predictions made from skeletal anatomy, providing the first molecular evidence for the evolutionary relationships of a non-avian dinosaur,” says co-author Chris Organ, a postdoctoral researcher in organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University. “Even though we only had six peptides — just 89 amino acids — from T. rex, we were able to establish these relationships with a relatively high degree of support. With more data, we’d likely see the T. rex branch on the phylogenetic tree between alligators and chickens and ostriches, though we can’t resolve this position with currently available data.”The current paper builds on work reported in Science last year. In that paper, a team headed by John M. Asara and Lewis C. Cantley, both of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard Medical School (HMS), first captured and sequenced tiny pieces of collagen protein from T. rex. For the current work, Organ and Asara and their colleagues used sophisticated algorithms to compare collagen protein from several dozen species. The goal: to place T. rex on the animal kingdom’s family tree using molecular evidence.“Most of the collagen sequence was obtained from protein and genome databases but we also needed to sequence some critical organisms, including modern alligator and modern ostrich, by mass spectrometry,” says Asara, director of the mass spectrometry core facility at BIDMC and instructor in pathology at HMS. “We determined that T. rex, in fact, grouped with birds — ostrich and chicken — better than any other organism that we studied. We also show that it groups better with birds than [with] modern reptiles, such as alligators and green anole lizards.”While scientists have long suspected that birds, and not more basal reptiles, are dinosaurs’ closest living relatives, for years that hypothesis rested largely on morphological similarities in bird and dinosaur skeletons.The scraps of dinosaur protein were wrested from a fossil femur discovered in 2003 by John Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in a barren fossil-rich stretch of land that spans Wyoming and Montana. Mary H. Schweitzer of North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences discovered soft-tissue preservation in the T. rex bone in 2005; Asara became involved in analysis of the collagen protein because of his expertise in mass spectrometry techniques capable of sequencing minute amounts of protein from human tumors. While it appears impossible to salvage DNA from the bone, Asara was able to extract precious slivers of protein.The current work by Organ and Asara suggests that the extracted protein from the fossilized dinosaur tissue is authentic, rather than contaminated from a living species.“These results support the endogenous origin of the preserved collagen molecules,” the researchers write.Organ, Asara, Schweitzer, and Cantley’s co-authors on the Science paper are Wenxia Zheng of NCSU and Lisa M. Freimark of BIDMC. Their research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Paul F. Glenn Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
Google Flu Trends adjusts how it tracks dataGoogle Flu Trends has adjusted the modeling it uses so that it can more accurately predict US activity after it overemphasized flu severity last season, Google engineer Christian Stefansen said in a blog post yesterday.The tool predicts influenza activity based on Google search terms, and it tracked with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data fairly well from the end of the 2009-10 H1N1 pandemic till early this year, Stefansen wrote. In January, after Google Flu Trends experts noticed differences between its estimates and weekly CDC reports, they examined the cause.”We found that heightened media coverage on the severity of the flu season resulted in an extended period in which users were searching for terms we’ve identified as correlated with flu levels,” Stefansen wrote. “In early 2013, we saw more flu-related searches in the US than ever before.”After examining several options to fix the model, “We determined that an update using the peak from the 2012-2013 season provided a close approximation of flu activity for recent seasons,” Stefansen said. “We will be applying this update to the US flu level estimates for the 2013-2014 flu season, starting from August 1st.”The new model will forecast lower flu levels than last year’s model did at a similar point, Stefansen said, which should better approximate CDC data.A study published about 2 weeks ago found fault with the reliability of Google Flu Trends, saying it missed the first wave of the 2009 pandemic and greatly overestimated the 2012-13 epidemic. Oct 29 Google blog post Google Flu Trends home page Oct 18 CIDRAP News item on study of Google Flu Trends CDC: Newest H7N9 cases raise no new alarmsThe two cases of H7N9 avian influenza in China reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) in October, the first since Aug 11, are not unexpected and do not change the current risk assessment for the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an Oct 28 update.The agency points out that after the initial surge of cases at the outbreak’s start in April, sporadic cases have continued to occur and that, with the purported seasonal variation in circulation of avian flu viruses, infections in both birds and people may increase as the weather becomes cooler. Forecasting the number of cases is not possible, however, says the agency.The most recent case, reported by the WHO on Oct 24, involved a 67-year-old farmer who had contact with live poultry, the main source of exposure to date. No sustained human-to-human transmission of the H7N9 virus has been reported from China, nor has the epidemiology of the virus changed, the CDC said.The WHO’s global H7N9 count stands at 137 cases and 45 deaths.Oct 28 CDC update May 13 CDC article “H7N9: Is This Flu Something to Worry About?” $5.5 million from NIAID for adjuvanted pandemic flu vaccineNanoBio Corporation, an Ann Arbor, Mich., biopharmaceutical company, announced yesterday that it has been awarded initial funding of $5.5 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for support of NanoVax-Panflu, a vaccine that combines the company’s proprietary non-emulsion (NE) adjuvant with a plant-based recombinant H5 pandemic influenza antigen.The adjuvanted vaccine will elicit both systemic and mucosal immunity, the latter crucial in protecting against such pathogens as respiratory viruses that enter the body through mucosal surfaces, says the release.NanoBio has recently tested NE-adjuvanted vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus and type 2 genital herpes. Says company CEO David Peralta in the release, “The results of these studies very clearly demonstrate the ability of the NE adjuvant to elicit mucosal immunity and the important role this type of immunity plays in protecting against disease.”The total contract is valued at $10 million if all options are exercised, and it includes a future option for work on an NE-adjuvanted vaccine against HIV.Oct 29 NanoBio press release
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