Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2000

News Briefs

October 26, 2000



Temporary OK for biotech corn sought to avoid supply tie-ups

Amid taco shell recalls and food-processing plant shutdowns, the government was asked Wednesday to temporarily approve for human consumption a variety of genetically engineered corn that has slipped into the food supply.

The corn's developer, Aventis CropScience of Research Triangle Park, N.C., said data it submitted Wednesday shows there is "no potential" for the corn, known as StarLink, to affect people who currently suffer from food allergies.

In 1998, the government rejected Aventis' original request to approve the corn for human consumption, OK'ing it only for animal feed and industrial uses because the government's scientific advisers were uncertain whether it was an allergen. A protein special to the corn contains a common characteristic of food allergens such as peanuts in that it degrades slowly in the digestive system.

Aventis said the new data it supplied the Environment Protection Agency provided "overwhelming support" for giving temporary human food-use approval to the corn. The analysis was prepared by Novagen Inc., a Madison, Wis., laboratory that does scientific research for the food industry.


Search called off in flash flooding

Authorities now say only one person is unaccounted for after the weekend flash flood that forced hundreds to flee their homes in this western Arizona town. Seven people were initially feared missing.

La Paz County Sheriff's Lt. Don Davis said 100 searchers, using four dogs and aided by a helicopter, were searching areas where floodwaters had receded Wednesday. The search halted at sunset and was scheduled to start again this morning.

Davis said authorities had reduced the number of missing after double checking incorrect second- and thirdhand reports and discovering some listed as missing had turned up.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

Heavy rain began over the weekend and by Sunday the flash flood hit Wenden, a town of about 1,200 about 90 miles west of Phoenix. The nearby town of Salome was flooded but suffered less damage.


Mayo Clinic researchers develop noninvasive colon cancer test

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have developed a new test that detects colon cancer without the invasive procedures so many people try to avoid, but it could be years before the test is widely available.

Rather than using a long scope to examine the colon, the new test measures genetic abnormalities in the patient's stool.

"From the patient's perspective, it's a very user-friendly kind of test that may help overcome some of the barriers to screening participation," said Dr. David Ahlquist, the Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist who led the study, published Wednesday in the journal Gastroenterology.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 129,400 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and 56,000 die from it. It can be cured if detected early, but because of the uncomfortable procedures, only 30 percent of Americans older than 50 the recommended screening age for people without risk factors get tested, Ahlquist said.

Researchers used the new test in a study of 61 Mayo Clinic patients during the past year and a half.

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