Health Highlights: Nov. 1, 2016

Patient's Fart During Surgery Starts FireTwo New Genetically-Engineered Potato Varieties Approved by USDA

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Patient's Fart During Surgery Starts Fire

A surgical patient in Japan suffered serious burns after her fart started a fire.

The women in her 30s was having an operation in which a laser was applied to her cervix. The laser is believed to have ignited gas passed by the patient, and the resulting blaze burned much of her body, according to The Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

A committee of outside experts investigated the incident and said no flammable materials were in the operating room and that all equipment was functioning normally.

The committee concluded: "When the patient's intestinal gas leaked into the space of the operation (room), it ignited with the irradiation of the laser, and the burning spread, eventually reaching the surgical drape and causing the fire," the newspaper reported.


Two New Genetically-Engineered Potato Varieties Approved by USDA

Two new types of genetically-engineered potatoes resistant to the disease that caused the Irish potato famine have been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties of Innate potatoes were created by J.R. Simplot Co. of Idaho, the Associated Press reported.

The potatoes are resistant to late blight, which caused the Irish potato famine. They contain only potato genes and their resistance to late blight comes from an Argentinian variety of potato that has natural resistance to the disease.

Late blight is still a major challenge for potato growers worldwide, especially in wetter regions, the AP reported.

The two new varieties are also less prone to bruising and black spots, store better, and have lower levels of a potentially cancer-causing chemical created when potatoes are cooked at high temperatures.

The new potatoes must still undergo a voluntary review process through the Food and Drug Administration and get approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Simplot said it expects those approvals in January, with sales of the potatoes starting next spring, the AP reported.

A third variety of potato called the Russet Burbank has the same traits and was previously approved by the USDA and FDA, with EPA approval also expected in January.

While there is no evidence that genetically-modified foods are unsafe to eat, some consumers are wary of them, the AP reported.

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