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Bill C-220

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This enactment provides for all foods or food ingredients that are or that contain genetically modified material to be labelled to this effect, in accordance with the regulations. It does not apply to content of genetically modified material in a food or in a food ingredient below one percent, to allow for the practical limitations that exist in the avoidance of contamination.

This labelling will allow for research and post-release monitoring of potential health effects of genetically modified foods. It will also enable purchasers to decide whether to purchase products containing genetically modified material.

As this applies at all stages of sale, it will require the genetic history of a food or ingredient to be recorded and traced through all stages of distribution, manufacture, processing, packaging and sale.

Purchasers at all stages, from production to retail sale, must require the vendor to undertake in writing that the requirements of the Act and the regulations have been complied with. This will ensure the integrity of the documentation trail, facilitate accurate labelling and prevent incorrectly labelled or unlabelled material reaching the consumer.

The enactment allows for the requirement for labelling to be brought into force with respect to different foods, as soon as the relevant regulations are made, and time has been allowed to enable the necessary procedures and controls to be put in place.

This enactment will not affect the right of a vendor to apply voluntary labelling describing a food as being ``GM free'', if that is the case.

The existing provisions of the Food and Drugs Act for inspection, enforcement, offences and penalties apply. New offences related to false, misleading or incomplete labelling are established and include persons who are wilfully blind to defects in labelling. These offences would incur the existing penalties in that Act, which include fines up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to three years.

The existing power to exempt foods from the provisions of the Act is limited so that foods may not be exempted from the provisions respecting labelling of genetically modified foods, except packaged specialty foods that are unlikely to be a significant or essential part of a diet and that are labelled to show that they have been exempted from the requirement to declare the genetically modified content.

Provision is made for the Minister to initiate research into the long-term effects of the consumption of genetically modified food on human health.