1961 Madrid Protocol


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    • A team of Argentine scientists is using microorganisms native to Antarctica to clean up pollution from fuels and potentially plastics in the pristine expanses of the white continent. 


    • The Antarctic continent is vast: It embraces the South Pole with permanent ice and snow. It is encircled by floating barriers of ice, stormy seas and appalling weather.
    • Cleaning system: The tiny microbes munch through the waste, creating a naturally occurring cleaning system for pollution caused by diesel that is used as a source of electricity and heat for research bases in the frozen Antarctic.
    • 1961 Madrid Protocol: The continent is protected by a 1961 Madrid Protocol that stipulates it must be kept in a pristine state.
      • The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington in 1959 by the twelve nations that had been active during the IGY (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and USSR).
      • Through this agreement, the countries active in Antarctica consult on the uses of a whole continent, with a commitment that it should not become the scene or object of international discord.
    • Objectives behind the Treaty:
      • Stipulates that Antarctica should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.
      • Guarantees continued freedom to conduct scientific research.
      • Promotes international scientific cooperation.
      • Prohibits nuclear explosions
      • Provides for inspection by observers
      • Puts in place a dispute settlement procedure and a mechanism by which the Treaty can be modified.
    • Significance
      • This work uses the potential of native microorganisms – bacteria and fungi that inhabit the Antarctic soil, even when it is contaminated and make these microorganisms eat the hydrocarbons.

    Source: TH