UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Oct. 19, 2007 at 7:53 PM
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FDA votes to ban cold medicine under age 6

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel voted Friday to recommend a ban on over-the-counter cough and cold medicine for children under age 6.

The panel voted unanimously to ban the products for children under age 2, and voted 13-9 to ban the products for children ages 2 to 5, The New York Times reported.

The vote came a week after major drug makers agreed to withdraw more than a dozen products labeled for use by infants and babies.

Manufacturers say their medicines are effective and safe when used as directed, the newspaper reported.

Kansas rejects coal-fired power plant

HOLCOMB, Kan., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The Kansas Department of Health and Environment denied the air quality permit for two proposed 700-megawatt generators at the Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

The agency cited environmental concerns in rejecting the expansion at the coal-fired plant in Holcomb, Kan., which was projected to release an estimated 11 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

"I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore emerging information about the contribution of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to climate change and the potential harm to our environment and health if we do nothing," Secretary Roderick L. Bremby said in a release.

The Washington Post Friday said it is the first time carbon dioxide emissions have been given as the reason for rejecting an air permit for a proposed coal-fired electricity generating plant in the United States.

The agency said the Sunflower denial is the first step in emerging policy to address existing and future carbon dioxide emissions in Kansas.

Study suggests a Neanderthal speech gene

NEW YORK, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- DNA evidence from two Neanderthals found in a Spanish cave suggested that the prehistoric human species possessed a speech gene.

Svante Paabo, a biologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, said he and his colleagues have extracted part of the FOXP2 gene from the fossils and that it is the same as the human version, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The findings are published online in the journal Current Biology.

Paabo said there is no reason to think Neanderthals couldn’t speak like humans, although there are many other genes involved in language and speech.

Palm oil putting orangutans at risk

BROOKFIELD, Ill., Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Conservationists meeting at the Brookfield Zoo near Chicago say growing demand for palm oil is putting Sumatran orangutans at risk of extinction.

Keynote speaker Serge Wich, an orangutan researcher from Sumatra, said forests are being ruthlessly clear-cut in Indonesia to feed the exploding palm oil market, The Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday.

The large tree-dwelling mammals have lost about 80 percent of their habitat in the last 20 years and are currently found only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, the newspaper said. Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program estimated there are only about 6,700 orangutans left in Sumatra and 55,000 in Borneo.

Rather than call for a boycott of palm oil, the experts who met this week promoted firms that use the oil produced on environmentally sensitive plantations, the newspaper said.

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