RS and good science

November 12, 1999

A Royal Society working group report of September 1998 on genetically modified foods was incorrectly described as "extolling the potential benefits of the technology" (In the News, THES, November 5). It is an assessment of the benefits and risks of GM technology, as the following quote will show: "The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has the potential to offer real benefits in agricultural practice, food quality, nutrition and health. There are, however, uncertainties about several aspects of GMOs. Continued research, funded in part from public sources with the results made openly available, is essential if these uncertainties are to be properly addressed, the risks understood and the full potential of the new technology made clear. All parties must appreciate the public's legitimate concerns; customer confidence, based on an appreciation of the scientific evidence and the regulatory checks and balances, is central to whether GMOs will contribute to feeding the world's rapidly expanding population."

This was written well before the current furore and exemplifies the society's role of promoting good science.

Incidentally, Peter Lachmann is no longer biological secretary of the Royal Society.

Stephen Cox, Executive secretary, The Royal Society

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