that is common to all nations or all man- be broadened to other parts of the world obligation to see that the best available
kind (ius gentium). Over fifteen centu- towards wise use of water, a heritage scientific knowledge is brought to bear
ries, this concept has endured throughout common to all. on the creation of water laws and policies,
Europe as a legacy of Roman law, de- Looking at the Water Framework Di- as well as their implementation. Science
spite the decline and fall of the Roman rective from India’s perspective, it is par- has to learn to address a different type of
Empire. The doctrine of public trust, ticularly relevant to note that this knowledge that lies outside its traditional
which asserts public rights in navigable philosophy of water management, de- boundaries.
waters, fisheries and tidelands, is but one spite its roots in a society that pre-dates
manifestation of ius gentium. Upon re- modern society by over fifteen centuries,
T. N. NARASIMHAN
flection, it is not unreasonable to think is based on science and technology.
that the coming together of 27 members Modern water law and policy cannot ex-
of the EU to share their common heritage ist without active participation from sci- Materials Science and Engineering,
through a law that is common to ‘all na- ence. Yet, science cannot make judicial University of California at Berkeley,
tions’ is a modern embodiment of ius and policy decisions. In the larger scheme Berkeley,
gentium. There is no reason why this phi- of democratic governance, science, sci- California 94720-1760, USA
losophical approach of the EU should not entists, and scientific institutions have an e-mail: tnnarasimhan@LBL.gov
Omega-3 fatty acids: A boon to human beings
Omega-3 fatty acids have drawn consid- inhibited and there is an increase in dila- The omega-3 rich edible refined oils and
erable attention due to their potential role tion of the arteries. These strengthen our supplements, should be kept in the dark
in human health1. Here we mention the immune system. Dietary intake of and protected from oxidation. Their in-
benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and con- omega-3 fatty acids is inversely related take should not be more than 3 g per day.
ditions which are responsible for better to age-related macular degeneration and The use of omega-6 fatty acids (sun-
results. reduces the risk of blinding disease. flower oil and safflower oil) is also bene-
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered a Above all, it is reported to prevent sudden ficial. However, their consumption is
boon to human beings. Body functions death of an individual. much higher in comparison to omega-3
are improved by their intake. Brain is a Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain fatty acids, and therefore they produce
vital organ that keeps the body functions poly unsaturated fatty acids like eicosa- deleterious effects. The best way is to re-
in proper control. These fatty acids increase pentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahex- duce the consumption of excess omega-
the volume of grey matter associated aenoic acid (DHA), which increase the 6-rich edible oil, and increase omega-3-
with mood and regulation of emotions. fluidity of membranes. Once the mem- rich edible oil, for proper health benefit.
The risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s branes function in a normal manner, there
disease is also checked. They also boost is proper cell-to-cell communication.
the cognitive functions in elderly people, Omega-3 fatty acids are found in flax 1. Patil, V. and Gislerød, H. R., Curr. Sci.,
and there is improvement in osteoarthri- seeds, walnuts and soybeans, besides fatty 2006, 90, 908–909.
tis by prevention of loss of cartilage that fishes like salmon. These are essentially
acts as a cushion in the joints and checks in the cis-form. The oils containing P. K. AMBASHT*
inflammation. They protect against pros- omega-3 are not directly taken; instead KERDALIN KHARKRANG
tate and breast cancer by stimulating the they are used for cooking. At higher SHALIMI RAPSANG NONGPIUR
death of tumour cells. These fatty acids temperature (160°C), the cis-form is con-
increase HDL cholesterol and reduce verted to trans-form, which is not healthy Department of Biochemistry,
triglycerides, a condition that is favour- for humans as the benefits of omega-3 School of Life Sciences,
able for the heart. These keep the blood fatty acids are lost. The same refined oil North Eastern Hill University,
in fluid state by decreasing platelet ag- can however be used uncooked, but Shillong 793 022, India
gregation. Thickening of the arteries is spread over salads, etc. for better results. *e-mail: email@example.com
From biohazard to bioresource
Zoos are known to harbour hundreds of wable energy potential has seldom been device known as ‘gobar gas plant’ that
herbivorous animals1. These animals pro- recognized in zoos globally. produced biogas and manure2. However,
duce enormous amount of dung daily. Cow dung has been used as fertilizer the concept did not receive public interest
The collected dung is disposed swiftly and fuel in many countries for centuries. for nearly half a century.
since it is considered waste, unhygienic Mahatma Gandhi was keen to utilize Biogas is comprised primarily of meth-
and a potential reservoir for contagious biogas from dung and it was materialized ane and carbon dioxide. It is produced by
diseases. Due to this repulsive attitude, in the 1930s when the Indian Council of anaerobic digestion or fermentation of
animal dung as a bioresource with rene- Agriculture Research developed a simple organic matter. The biogas technology
1044 CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 93, NO. 8, 25 OCTOBER 2007