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No intent by mother, 18, as baby died, lawyer says

CENTRAL ISLIP (AP) -- A teenager who hid her pregnancy and then failed to seek help when she gave birth to the baby in a shower at home did not act with criminal intent, her attorney said Saturday.

The infant delivered by Zehra Catalbas, 18, of Mount Sinai, Suffolk County, died shortly after the birth. An autopsy said the cause was asphyxiation, but officials have not yet publicly described how the child died. Defense attorney Anthony M. La Pinta said Catalbas did not smother or intentionally drown the infant.

Catalbas put the baby's body in a backpack and called her boyfriend for a ride to the hospital after she had trouble delivering the placenta, authorities said.

She has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and is free on bail while awaiting trial.

La Pinta said Catalbas feared telling her parents about the child. He said she has been undergoing psychological evaluation.


Labeling urged for seeds with genetic alterations

ALBANY (AP) -- Lawmakers here want New Yorkers to know not just what they're eating, but what they're planting as well.

A bill introduced in the Legislature would require the labeling of all seeds that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Organic farmers fear having their crops tainted from birds, insects or wind that could transmit pollen from GMO crops, while many consumers fear that there is not enough data available on the long-range consequences of eating genetically modified foods.

"Organic food is considered healthy because it's natural. The one thing genetically modified food is not is natural," said Sarah Johnston, executive director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, which represents 650 farms. "Farmers are, in some cases, purchasing genetically modified seeds unbeknownst to them. At the very least, people need to know what they are purchasing."

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