Gas blast at Mexico City children’s hospital leaves 2 dead, dozens injured

Mexico City.(Reuters / Tomas Bravo)

The bodies of a man and a woman were found in the debris of the collapsed building, according to local media reports. Between 30 to 40 percent of the structure had reportedly collapsed following the blast.

Adrian Rubalcava, head of the Cuajimalpa borough in Mexico City where the facility is located, said that the injured are being taken to a nearby hospital, though there were insufficient ambulances in the area.

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RT – Daily news

GMO potato seeks FDA approval, opponents say safety risks remain

Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

Created by the J. R. Simplot Company, ‘Innate’ potatoes were created by inserting extra genes into them – genes that are modified but that otherwise exist naturally in the potato. Through genetic modification using RNA interference (RNAi), scientists used these genes to shut down a few of the potato’s other original genes – a process called gene silencing.

Some of the genes being shut down are those that cause bruising and create acrylamide when potatoes are baked or fried. Acrylamide is an amino acid which, in tests conducted on rats, has increased the animals’ risk of getting cancer.

There are also financial incentives behind gene silencing, and the Innate potato was designed to solve a big monetary problem. Farmers currently throw out 1.4 billion pounds of potatoes due to browning and bruising, costing them 15 percent of their profits each year. The fewer potatoes thrown out because of this, the more profit they can recoup off their yield.

While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved the new varieties in November, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give the green light on the potato. It is looking into how the genetic modification has altered the chemical makeup of the potato, and whether that raises safety concerns.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is worried about the USDA granting the Innate potato a non-regulatory status, since GMO foods are not required to be labeled. As a result, the new potato will be sold to consumers without their knowledge.

We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference (RNAi) technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment. If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the US regulation of GE crops,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, the director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist at CFS. “These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome.”

CFS said gene silencing may end up turning down – or off – genes other than those that are targeted, because many genes contain similar, or even identical, stretches of DNA. Current testing cannot detect such effects.

However, Alan McHughen, a biotechnologist and geneticist at UC Riverside, said he disagreed, adding that the Innate potato is a use of genetic technology “that is benign as you’re ever going to find.”

READ MORE: ‘Genetic firewall’ discovery to make GMOs containable, scientists say

Meanwhile, RT correspondent Lindsay France reported that Simplot has conducted 140 field trials in 15 potato-growing states, as well as Canada.

We’ve been eating genetically engineered food products since the middle 90’s and so far there is not a single documented case of harm,”McHughen added. “That’s a pretty good safety track record, I would be really surprised is this potato would reverse that trend.”

READ MORE: Oregon GMO-labeling initiative defeated by Monsanto-sponsored groups

Still, there is other dissent coming from food manufacturers. Frito-Lay, the biggest potato chip maker, and McDonald’s have both issued statement saying they are not planning to use the Simplot potatoes in their products.

According to France, “Simplot says the Innate will most likely be marketed as a ‘value added product’ courtesy of the suppression of the cancer-causing agent gene, and a lack of browning. But it’s not up to Simplot, and it’s not up to the federal government which has passed no law creating a right to know policy for the consumer. It’s up to the manufacturers who stand to profit from letting us know or not.”

RT – Daily news

ISIS threatens to execute Jordanian hostage unless Iraqi prisoner released by Thursday sunset – audio message

Man walks past television screens displaying a news program, about an Islamic State video showing Japanese captive Kenji Goto, on a street in Tokyo January 28, 2015. (Reuters/Yuya Shino)

The audio, which could not be immediately verified, was distributed on Twitter and was accompanied by Arabic text.

The man who presents himself as Kenji Goto Jogo says in the audio that he was told to deliver a message that if Sajida al-Rishawi is not delivered to the Turkish border by sunset on January 29 for an exchange, another hostage – a Jordanian pilot – will be killed.

The Japanese government is currently analyzing the voice recording, a spokesman for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office told Reuters.

The recording has yet to be independently verified, but Jordan has so far received no assurance that the pilot is safe. However, the kingdom has agreed to release al-Rishawi if Kasaesbeh’s life is spared.

READ MORE: ISIS & Japan agree on hostage swap, Japanese journalist may be freed ‘within hours’

On Tuesday, the Islamic State released a video of Kenji Goto Jogo saying that he had 24 hours to live unless Jordan released the convicted extremist woman on death row for her role in a 2005 suicide bombing.

Late Wednesday, the pilot’s father met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, who assured him that “everything will be fine.”

If the exchange goes ahead, it will set a precedent for negotiating with the Islamic State, which has not opted for prisoner exchanges in the past.

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RT – Daily news


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