New laws on labelling foods which contain genetically modified (GM) additives have come into force in England and Scotland, as part of a campaign by the new Food Standards Agency to reassure consumers.

The FSA, which was launched last week, said all foods and food ingredients which contain GM additives and flavourings would have to be labelled, as would all products containing GM soya and maize, in line with new European Union rules.

Similar regulations will come into force in Wales and Northern Ireland shortly, it said.

“I said at the agency’s launch last week that we want to support consumer choice,” said Sir John Krebs, chairman of the FSA. “I therefore very much welcome these new requirements which will further improve the ability of consumers to make informed choices.”

The FSA said it would look at the way current GM labelling rules are functioning as part of the “Better Labelling Initiative”. It aims to ensure food labels carry the right information in a clear and easily readable format.

There is widespread opposition in Britain to GM foods, amid fears the technology may prove a health hazard or damage an already fragile countryside.

Krebs has been careful not to stir up debate still further, saying he is not against GM food but believes the assessment of safety should be at the highest level and that each case should be viewed on its own merits.