Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Get your own Petri Dish at your Doorstep

The Petri Dish – the first of its kind newspaper in the region is receiving raving responses from the biotechnology community. A number of them have expressed interest to subscribe to it, though it is a free newspaper and is being sent their institutions and companies. The reason being – they want to have their own copy. Some would like to bring it home to share it with their family members. Others complained about dirty issues and missing pages at their common reading lounges in their offices.

Whatever the reasons maybe, we are happy to cater to the regular subscribers and send them regular copies right to their doorsteps.

You too wish to have your personal copy of The Petri Dish? It is just two steps away from you:

  1. Write to us at Send us your personal details: name, address, email address, telephone number, and designation.
  2. Send us cheque payable to “Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre Berhad”.

Yearly subscription (12 issues) is RM96 (for locals) and USD96 (for foreigners).

To view the on line version, go to:

The Petri Dish is an excellent reading material for students, undergraduates and post graduates.

Get your own copy today!


Mahaletchumy Arujanan

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spiders weaving silk

During the recent Earth Hour season, my colleague, Nicholas Boo Tzyy Guang happened to be in Sunway Giza one weekend. While walking along the eateries, he stumbled upon an eye-catching exhibition by an owner of an organic shop. I am sharing two photos taken by Nicholas.

For ease of reading, I am reproducing the captions provided by the organizers.

Do you know frog genes are inserted to your brinjals so that they have unusually broad spectrum and monstrous power to resist various infections?

Do you know the delicious tomatoes on your plate are inserted with spider genes so that the evil corporations can earn billions of dollars from the silk extraction from tomatoes?

I also shared these photos with my daughters as they are the environmental preachers at home, who constantly remind me of recycling, renewable energy sources, and sustainability of natural resources.

My daughters asked me to verify this information and when I explained to them that there are no frog genes in brinjal nor spider genes in tomatoes, they were perplexed. I further explained that even if some companies wanted to extract silk from tomatoes, why would they then let us have the “silky” tomatoes on our plates when it was meant for extraction of silk. Isn’t it silly to sell these tomatoes in the market for the same price of the normal tomatoes? And also, how can genes from spider produce silk? It is like saying I sow apple seeds and get oranges… If spiders could weave silk, I wouldn’t be dusting off the spider webs in my house. I will collect them and make a beautiful sari for myself or even start a silk business…

I also explained to them Bt brinjal which carries genes Bacillus thuringiensis, a soil bacterium used as pesticide even by organic farmers. And that Bt brinjal is not in the market yet. Lucky me, my daughters are technology savvy and were quick enough to grasp my technical explanation. But what was difficult to answer was their question on ethics:

“Why then these exhibitors lie so blatantly? Won’t they feel ashamed of themselves saying all this silly things?”

Now, that was a difficult question to answer. But since when did these scaremongers feel ashamed to lie. If only this information came from a mainstream scientist, he or she would be a laughing stock among his/her peers.

I can only hope the public has a good sense of judgment, critical thinking and some science knowledge so they don’t fall prey to all this pseudoscience.

Mahaletchumy Arujanan

Raving responses for The Petri Dish

We are into the third issue of The Petri Dish – the first popular biotechnology newspaper in the region. Ever since it hit the public domain in February, we have getting many emails and phone calls congratulating MABIC in publishing this newspaper. The content, language, pictures, print quality and the design impress our readers.

The Petri Dish is now being circulated to universities and colleges, research institutes, ministries, government agencies, industry, and selected hospitals. Soon it will hit secondary schools in Malaysia in phases. The PDF version is also on our website: For those who are not on our mailing list, you can read it on line. It has also been linked to BICs in Iran and India. More will follow suit soon.

We are also getting calls from biotechnology industry for advertisement space. We started off printing 2,000 copies, 12 pages. And now there is a strong urge to increase both the circulation and pagination. In the course of next few months, we expect to increase both circulation and pagination.

Here are some of the testimonies from our readers, from Malaysia and outside Malaysia.

Well done! A good start to introduce biotechnology to the community. - Datin Paduka Prof. Dr. Khatijah Yusoff, Deputy Secretary General, MOSTI

The Petri Dish.................How exciting to finally have a uniquely different and freely circulated S&T newspaper that just focuses on the all important world of biotechnology. The inaugural issue was informative, without being boring, revealing but not dogmatic, and newsy but not gossipy or political. It captured happenings in the biotech world at home and abroad while also giving space for fun items like a crossword puzzle and brainteasers. The language, content and presentation has made it an easy-to-read paper, that offers choice pieces that would be particularly appealing to each individual reader according to the area of interest, be it in the biotech fraternity, business, research or fun areas. Congratulations to Ms. Maha and her remarkable team. Looking forward to more!! - Prof (R) Dr. Helen Nair

To me The Petri Dish is a very effective means of educating Biotech to the public, it always works when you it in a simple and colourful story. – Dr. Umi Kalsom Abu Bakar, Director, Biotechnology Research Centre, MARDI

Petri Dish to me is the window to the vast and complex world of Biotechnology but rendered in a simple layman term, thus making good sense of what the world of Biotechnology has to offer – Tengku Nila Putri Tengku Ilham, Vice President, BiotechCorp

The Petri Dish serves scientific news with relish! – Munirah Abdul Hamid, Executive Director, MGRC.

The Petri Dish is a timely publication, one that addresses the need to not only reach out to, but also to bring attention to the biotechnology industry in an accessible and easy-to-read manner. - P.Kandiah, MD, Kass International

Refreshing & illuminating. – Dr. K. Harikrishna, Senior Vice President, Sime Darby Technology Centre

I think it is a really neat publication - it is a sharp and very attractive publication that I am sure you are very proud of - on behalf of the ISAAA Board I am certainly very proud of it and you - I particularly like the style of clean, attractive and bubbly writing which reveals the excitement and the dedication and commitment of the contributors, ably guided by you as Editor in Chief - do as I do NOT do as I say. Carry on the very good and creative work you are doing at MABIC - Dr. Clive James, Chair ISAAA Board

We would like to congratulate MABIC and team for initiating a much needed effort to mainstream the science of biotech, agriculture and food with society by creating a new main line news paper “The Petri Dish”, which is the need of the time not only in Malaysia but also in Asia and Africa where agriculture needs an immediate attention amidst rising food prices and poverty. MABIC has been at forefront in introducing new concept and creative ideas to bridge the knowledge gap between science and society especially science of biotechnology with the society. We would be talking full advantage of “The Petri Dish” in India and convey our best wishes to MABIC and team in this successful endeavour. – ISAAA India

I am impressed by the Petri Dish!!! – Brigitte, ISAAA AfriCentre

I found “Petri Dish” a very effective to for communicating biotech. I think every country in the region need one “Petri Dish”. I am so pleased to see that a newspaper of this kind is produced and distributed for the first time in Malaysi, where both biotechnology proponents and activists are have strong presence. Petri Dish can fill the gap – the gap of truth. In the community filled with wrong and baseless accusations against modern technologies including biotechnology, everyone needs one “Petri Dish” – Dr. Behzad Ghareyazie, President, Biosafety Society of Iran

Your comments and suggestions are valuable to us to improve The Petri Dish. Enjoy reading!


Mahaletchumy Arujanan