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Tougher safety checks are needed before foods made from genetically modified (GM) plants are declared fit for human consumption, according to a report released today by the Royal Society, Britain's leading scientific organisation.

But the report, called Genetically modified plants for food use and human health - an update, concludes that there is no reason to doubt the safety of currently available foods made from GM ingredients.

Safety assessments should be “harmonised” between different nations, and the criteria used to make safety assessments must be “more explicit and objective”, the report says.

“It is important that we get the regulations tight,” says Jim Smith, who chaired the working group that produced the report. “But the legislation must not be so restrictive that it removes any incentive for introducing new food products that are potentially beneficial to society.”

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Full text: Genetically modified plants for food use and human health - an update