2010 saw both highs and lows on science front | delhi | Hindustan Times
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2010 saw both highs and lows on science front

Controversy was the flavour of the year for science as top academies got the flak in the heated debate on commercialising genetically-modified crops and mishandling of radiation sources by universities that resulted in the death of a person in the capital.

delhi Updated: Dec 27, 2010 11:08 IST

Controversy was the flavour of the year for science as top academies got the flak in the heated debate on commercialising genetically-modified crops and mishandling of radiation sources by universities that resulted in the death of a person in the capital.

The year gone by also saw the country's atomic power plants generating more electricity as the crucial uranium fuel became available as the international community lifted the nuclear trade embargo imposed on India.

India also became the sixth country in the world to have 20 or more nuclear power plants as the fourth unit of Kaiga Generating Station was commissioned in November.

Space scientists had their share highs and lows. They celebrated as India's own Chandrayaan-I found ice deposits near the lunar north pole and finalised the payload for a sequel to the maiden moon mission.

ISRO successfully launched an indigenous mapping satellite Cartosat-2B using its warhorse rocket the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on July 12.

However, the launch of India's latest communication satellite GSAT-5P failed on Christmas Day when the rocket developed a snag soon after lift-off from the spaceport at Sriharikota.

The year literally began with a bang with a full-blown and often acrimonious debate on the safety and efficacy of genetically-modified brinjal and is commercialisation.

The pro and anti-Bt brinjal camps were well prepared with each making claims on the safety of transgenic variety of the eggplant which was cleared for release by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), a panel of top scientists, in October 2009.

However, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh over-ruled the scientific opinion and put a moratorium on its release. He later asked six leading science academies go into the issue of biotechnology in food crops with focus on transgenic crops and submit a report to him and the Planning Commission.

The report, which was released for limited circulation, triggered a furore with allegations of plagiarism against the six leading academies, including the prestigious Indian National Science Academy. Ramesh trashed the report contending that it was based on the opinion of one scientist known for his stand in favour of genetically modified crops.

The academies, representing leading scientists of the country, later updated their reports and incorporated views of researchers known for their stand against GM crops and also made proper attributions and references to material sourced from experts.