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China Spacecraft Lands On Planet Mars

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China is officially an untouchable space champion and now Joins the ranks of only two other world powers in the same league, Russia and United States of America.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed on Saturday morning that the lander carrying China’s first Mars rover touched down on the red planet.

It is the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth. This success coincides with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party a sole governing political party of the People’s Republic of China.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, on Saturday commended China’s advancement in space technology.

“Roscosmos welcomes the resumption of exploration of the planets of the solar system by the leading space powers,” Rogozin said in a statement.

China plans to conduct its latest manned spaceflight in June, sending three astronauts to enter the recently launched core module of the nation’s space station and work there for three months, according to a senior space official.

In 2022, two large space labs will be launched to connect with the core module. Moreover, two manned missions and two robotic cargo flights will be made that year to continue construction of the Chinese space station, which is scheduled to become complete and start formal operation around the end of next year.

China’s most adventurous space endeavor, the multimodule space station, named Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, will consist of three main components-a core module attached to two space labs-with a combined weight of nearly 70 metric tons. The entire station is set to work for about 15 years, mission planners have said.

The core module, named Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens, was lifted by a Long March 5B heavy-lift carrier rocket at the Wenchang launch center on April 29.

The biggest and heaviest spacecraft China has ever constructed, the module is 16.6 meters long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters.

The craft’s weight, at 22.5 tons, is equal to the combined weight of 15 standard-size automobiles. It has three parts-a connecting section, a life-support and control section and a resources section.

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Cattle in Tanzania Die After Vaccination Against Bovine Pleuropneumonia

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Tanzania’s Livestock and Fisheries Minister Mashimba Ndaki on Thursday ordered the veterinary council to investigate and hold accountable veterinarians who caused some livestock to die or get effects after vaccination in Dodoma region.

He issued a directive when he toured the Mlazo Village and received a report on the aftermath of the cattle vaccination against contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP).

“The Vaccination led to the death of over 25 cattle, 33 abortions, 58 got swellings on injected parts of skin,”Minister Mashimba noted.

He argued that the on-going countrywide vaccination exercise has good intentions, wondering how such an incident happened in Mlazo village.

“I am disappointed with how they executed it in Mlazo village. They did not follow the laid procedures and guidelines,” he stated.

The Minister also suspended Agristeps Limited, a company that entered a contract with Chamwino district council to oversee the immunization exercise, and also referred it to the Veterinary Council of Tanzania for further investigation.

“Thorough investigation must be conducted against the veterinarians who administered vaccination and measures taken against them. This company should also pay the costs for the menace it has caused,” he said.

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Another Human Species Discovered

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Scientists have found a large skull at the bottom of a well in northeastern China. The researchers have said this skull may belong to a new species of early human they have called “dragon man.”

The well-preserved skullcap, found in the Chinese city of Harbin, is between 138,000 and 309,000 years old, according to geochemical analysis, and it combines primitive features, such as a broad nose and low brow and braincase, with those that are more similar to Homo sapiens, including flat and delicate cheekbones.

The ancient hominin — which researchers said was “probably” a 50-year-old man — would have had an “extremely wide” face, deep eyes with large eye sockets, big teeth and a brain similar in size to modern humans.

Three papers detailing the find were published in the journal The Innovation on Friday.

“The Harbin skull is the most important fossil I’ve seen in 50 years. It shows how important East Asia and China is in telling the human story,” said Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at The Natural History Museum in London and coauthor of the research.

Researchers named the new hominin Homo longi, which is derived from Heilongjiang, or Black Dragon River, the province where the cranium was found.

The team plans to see if it’s possible to extract ancient proteins or DNA from the cranium, which included one tooth, and will begin a more detailed study of the skull’s interior, looking at sinuses and both ear and brain shape, using CT scans.

With these discoveries overtime, it means we weren’t the only humans on the block.

In the millennia since Homo sapiens first emerged in Africa about 300,000 years ago, we have shared the planet with Neanderthals, the enigmatic Denisovans, the “hobbit” Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonensis and Homo naledi, as well as several other ancient hominins.

This also means we had sex with some of them and produced babies. Some of these ancestors are well represented in the fossil record, but most of what we know about Denisovans comes from genetic information in our DNA.

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Is Rwanda Ready For GMO Cassava?

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In 2005, Felicien Simpunga cleared his 8 hectares of land and planted cassava in Ruhango district . The yields were always impressive year-in-year-out.

When Kinazi cassava processing plant was established in 2012, it became his main client. Simpunga decided to set up a small factory to process raw dried cassava into flour and sold it at a higher price than raw cassava.

However, in 2014 Simpunga nearly lost everything after an outbreak of Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD), known locally as Kabore.
All eight hectares of his cassava plants were infested and had to be uprooted.

“I had taken a bank loan of Rwf15 million that I haven’t been able to pay back. My four children could no longer go to school. All the workers on my farm lost their jobs and income too”, Simpunga said.

Cassava Brown Streak Disease spread to other cassava-producing districts including; Gisagara, Muhanga, Nyanza, Ruhango, Kamonyi and Bugesera. The loss was so huge.

Rwanda resorted to import a much resistant cassava variety in neighbouring Uganda.

Cassava is served as a staple food for 200 million people across the African continent. However, the crop has periodically suffered mysterious infestations of cassava mealybugs and brown streak virus.

Years later Kenya ordered its scientists to conduct research on a better cassava variety that would resist such attacks- and the answer was a genetically modified variety.

After seven years of intense research on controversial genetically modified cassava, Kenya government has finally approved open cultivation and consumption of this new species.

This latest development is expected to disrupt scientific research within the East African Community which has been resistant to adoption of Genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Kenya’s GM Cassava now becomes the first food crop to be approved for field cultivation. In 2019, Kenya approved GM cotton and farmers are already growing the first crop of this variety.

According to Rwanda’s Musoni Augustin a Pioneer Plant Breeder, embracing GMOs has its own advantages and shortcomings.

“There is little debate on adoption of GMOs in Rwanda. But we usually discuss about this subject inside our laboratories,” Musoni told Taarifa on Friday.

Musoni also says that many african countries have been hesitant to taking up such genetically modified organisms, however, he noted that many of these countries are importing GMOs and consuming them without their knowledge.

“Rwanda imports some Maize seeds from South Africa where such biotech science has been legally supported,” He said, adding that many other genetically modified foods are imported and consumed.

Cassava farmer in neighbouring Uganda shows off his GMO cassava

Kenya’s approval of genetically engineered cassava may trigger alot of scientific and policy alterations among member countries in the East African regional bloc.

Critiques argue that where biotech claims it has the solution to a life-threatening problem, the product is often in development for years after the press releases proclaim its life-saving properties. This often results in cuts in funding for more traditional and safer options such as biological control, which unlike GMOs, deal with the cause rather than the symptoms of the problem.

Dr. Hans Herren won the World Food Prize in 1995 for using biological controls to halt a mealybug infestation that threatened to destroy cassava crops across Africa.

By investing in co-creation of solutions in which farmers and scientists work together, embedded in the local ecological conditions. Cassava is a very resilient crop and, refering to the mealybug and green-spider-mites biological control, natural solutions do work and are supported by healthy soils and healthy plants.

The answer is not more technology to overcome nature, it is understanding nature and working with it to restore balance.

“Years of biotechnology research give you one genetically modified plant variety that does one thing. Tackling the cause of the problem beats symptom treatment, every time,” according to our source preferring anonymity.

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