2001 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 36th Parliament

The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.


BILL 18 – 2001



1  Definitions
2  Purpose and application
3  Sale of GE food
4  Promotion of non-GE food
5  Appointment of inspectors
6  General inspection powers
7  GE Food Labelling Advisory Panel
8  Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply
9  Offences
10  Offence penalties
11  Documentary and certificate evidence
12  Power to make regulations
13  Commencement

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:


1 In this Act:

"food" means food or drink for human consumption, and includes

(a) any substance or thing that is manufactured, sold or represented for use as food or drink for human consumption,

(b) any substance or thing that is manufactured, sold or represented for use as an additive, ingredient or processing aid in a substance or thing referred to in paragraph (a), and

(c) any agricultural product that is grown, raised, cultivated, harvested or kept for the purpose of producing food or drink for human consumption;

"GE food" means food composed of, containing or derived from genetically engineered material;

"genetic engineering" means the direct molecular manipulation of the genetic material or structure of an organism or virus, and includes the duplication, deletion or addition of genetic material of or to an organism or virus;

"genetically engineered material" means an organism or virus, or any part or product of either, that has been produced by genetic engineering;

"manufacture" includes prepare, slaughter, package, process, produce or refine;

"panel" means the GE Food Labelling Advisory Panel established by section 7 (1);

"sell" includes agree to sell and offer or display for sale.

Purpose and application

2 (1) The purpose of this Act is to provide consumers with information for making choices respecting food composed of, containing or derived from genetically engineered materials.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), this Act applies to food sold in British Columbia and for which standards or requirements are established under this Act.

(3) This Act does not apply to food prepared and sold from restaurants, cafeterias, catering services or other prescribed classes of food establishments or operations.

Sale of GE food

3 A person who sells GE food must

(a) meet and comply with all packaging, labelling, advertising, record keeping, handling, testing and other requirements and standards imposed by the regulations, and

(b) use prescribed words, phrases, symbols or labels to describe, package, label or advertise the food, in accordance with the regulations.

Promotion of non-GE food

4 Food that is not GE food may be packaged, labelled, advertised or otherwise promoted as such.

Appointment of inspectors

5 (1) The minister may appoint persons, or a class of persons, to be inspectors for the purposes of section 6.

(2) The minister, in an appointment under subsection (1), may

(a) limit the powers and functions that an inspector may exercise under this Act and the regulations, and

(b) make the appointment subject to terms and conditions.

General inspection powers

6 (1) For the purposes of ensuring compliance with this Act and the regulations, an inspector may do any of the following:

(a) enter at reasonable times

(i) any place where food is commercially grown, raised, cultivated, kept, harvested, manufactured, distributed, stored, handled or sold,

(ii) any premises related to a place referred to in subparagraph (i),

(iii) any place where records related to a business described in subparagraph (i) are kept, or

(iv) any place that the inspector believes on reasonable grounds is being used for any of the purposes described in subparagraph (i) or (iii);

(b) inspect the food in or on those places or premises and take or remove samples of the food or require the food to be produced for examination, analysis or testing;

(c) examine, analyze or test samples referred to in paragraph (b), or have any of these things done;

(d) require a person to produce for inspection records in the person's possession or control that are required under the regulations to be kept, maintained or produced for an inspection;

(e) inspect a record referred to in paragraph (d);

(f) request, order or direct a person to supply or provide information for the purpose of an inspection.

(2) The authority under subsection (1) must not be used to enter a private dwelling except with the consent of the occupant or the authority of a warrant under subsection (3).

(3) If satisfied by evidence given under oath or affirmation that

(a) entry to the private dwelling is necessary for any purpose related to carrying out an inspection under this Act, and

(b) entry to the private dwelling has been refused or there are reasonable grounds for believing that it will be refused,

a justice may issue a warrant authorizing an inspector, a peace officer or both to enter the private dwelling and conduct the inspection in relation to those parts of the private dwelling believed to be used for the purposes described in subsection (1) (a) (i) or (iii).

(4) A justice issuing a warrant under subsection (3) may include any terms and conditions that the justice considers advisable to ensure that entry into the private dwelling is reasonable in the circumstances.

(5) An inspector or peace officer acting under the authority of a warrant issued under subsection (3) may not use force to execute the warrant unless its use is specifically authorized in the warrant.

(6) In this section, "private dwelling" means a structure that is used as a private residence or a residential accommodation within any other structure.

GE Food Labelling Advisory Panel

7 (1) The GE Food Labelling Advisory Panel is established to advise and make recommendations to the minister respecting matters relating to this Act.

(2) The panel consists of not more than the number of members specified by regulation, all of whom are appointed by the minister.

(3) The minister must ensure that members include

(a) experts in genetic engineering,

(b) persons in the food industry, and

(c) consumers.

(4) The minister may set the term of office of each member of the panel and may designate one member as the chair.

(5) The minister may, in accordance with the general directives of Treasury Board,

(a) reimburse the members for reasonable travelling and out of pocket expenses necessarily incurred by them in attending panel meetings, and

(b) pay the members, for each day spent on the panel's business, a fee set by the minister.

Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply

8 Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act or the regulations.


9 (1) A person who contravenes section 3 or subsection (2), (3) or (5) of this section commits an offence.

(2) A person must provide all reasonable means in that person's power to facilitate an inspection under section 6.

(3) When requested, ordered or directed by an inspector or peace officer to supply or provide information, a person must not

(a) supply or provide false or misleading information, or

(b) neglect or refuse to supply or provide the information requested, ordered or directed.

(4) A person does not commit an offence under subsection (3) (a) if, at the time the information was supplied, the person did not know that it was false or misleading and, with the exercise of reasonable diligence, could not have known that the information was false or misleading.

(5) A person must not hinder, obstruct, impede, interfere with or refuse to admit an inspector or peace officer who is performing duties and exercising powers given by or under this Act, the regulations or under the authority of a warrant.

(6) If a corporation commits an offence under subsection (1), an employee, officer, director or agent of the corporation who authorizes, permits or acquiesces in the commission of the offence also commits an offence.

(7) Subsection (6) applies whether or not the corporation is prosecuted for the offence.

Offence penalties

10 (1) An individual who commits an offence under this Act or the regulations is liable to a fine of not more than $25 000 or to imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or to both.

(2) A corporation that commits an offence under this Act or the regulations is liable to a fine of not more than $100 000.

(3) Subsections (1) and (2) are subject to regulations, if any, under section 12 (2) (j) that may prescribe lower maximum penalties for a particular offence under this Act or the regulations.

Documentary and certificate evidence

11 (1) In this section, "analyst" means a person, or a member of a class of persons, designated by the minister as an analyst for the purpose of conducting analyses or tests under this Act.

(2) A copy of a document granted or issued by an inspector or other person authorized under this Act, and certified by the inspector or other person as a true copy is, without proof of the inspector's or person's signature, appointment or authorization,

(a) evidence of the document, and

(b) evidence that the person granting or issuing the document was authorized to do so.

(3) In any prosecution under this Act, a certificate as to the results of an analysis that is signed, or purports to be signed, by an analyst is evidence of the facts stated in the certificate and conclusive evidence of the authority of the person giving or making the certificate without proof of the person's signature, appointment or authorization.

(4) A person against whom a certificate under subsection (3) is produced may, with leave of the court, require the attendance of the analyst who signed the certificate, for the purpose of cross examination.

(5) A document or certificate under subsection (2) or (3) must not be received in evidence unless, before the trial, the defendant has received reasonable notice that the document or certificate will be introduced and has received a copy of that document or certificate.

Power to make regulations

12 (1) The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations referred to in section 41 of the Interpretation Act.

(2) Without limiting subsection (1), the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make regulations as follows:

(a) prescribing a class of food establishment or operation for the purposes of section 2 (3);

(b) specifying the maximum number of persons who may at any time be members of the panel;

(c) prescribing the duties and functions of the panel;

(d) establishing standards and imposing requirements respecting the labelling, packaging, display or advertising of GE food or GE food components;

(e) establishing standards and methods to be followed respecting the growing, raising, cultivating, keeping, harvesting, manufacturing, handling, distributing, transporting, storing and selling of food, whether or not the food is GE food;

(f) establishing requirements for control, supervision and management in a place where food is commercially grown, raised, cultivated, kept, harvested, manufactured, distributed, stored, handled or sold, and establishing and providing for systems to ascertain whether this Act and the regulations are being complied with, including, without limitation, reporting systems under which a person must deliver reports to an inspector on a regular basis, as prescribed;

(g) respecting records that a person must keep, maintain or produce for an inspection under section 6 and reports that a person must deliver to an inspector under a regulation under paragraph (f) of this subsection, including, without limitation, prescribing the form and content of the records or reports and the manner in which they must be kept, maintained, produced or delivered;

(h) providing for sampling, testing and analysis of food, providing for the manner and conditions of sampling, testing or analysis and designating laboratories to perform testing and analysis;

(i) providing for the maintenance and enforcement of standards and requirements established under this Act and the duties and powers of inspectors in relation to those matters;

(j) prescribing lower maximum penalties for any offence under this Act or the regulations than the maximum penalties described in section 10 (1) and (2) and providing differently for different offences;

(k) defining a word or expression used but not defined in this Act;

(l) exempting from the application of all or part of this Act or a regulation a class or type of person, food establishment or operation or food, including, without limitation, a class or type of food that contains less than a prescribed amount, quantity or type of genetically engineered material, and prescribing conditions or limitations to any exemption;

(m) authorizing the minister to make exemptions referred to in paragraph (l) and prescribing conditions in relation to this authority;

(n) respecting any matter considered necessary or advisable to carry out effectively the purpose of this Act.

(3) Nothing in section 2 (3) or the regulations under subsection (2) (a) of this section limits the authority of the Lieutenant Governor in Council in making a regulation under subsection (2) (l) or (m).

(4) In making regulations under this Act, the Lieutenant Governor in Council may make different regulations for

(a) different classes of persons, foods, matters, transactions, events or things, and

(b) different geographical areas in British Columbia.

(5) A regulation under this section may incorporate or adopt by reference, and with any changes the Lieutenant Governor in Council considers appropriate, all or part of a code, rule or standard, as amended before or after the making of the regulation and relating to the subject matter of this Act, whether the code, rule or standard is promulgated by the government of Canada, a province of Canada or a jurisdiction outside Canada, by any governmental authority or agency or by any association or other body of persons.

(6) If all or part of a code, rule or standard is adopted by regulation, publication in the Gazette of a notice of the adoption referring to the code, rule or standard and stating the extent of its adoption and setting out any variations to which the adoption is subject, is deemed sufficient publication without publishing in the Gazette the text of the code, rule, standard or part adopted.


13 This Act comes into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.


Explanatory Note

This Bill enables establishment of requirements and standards for the packaging and labelling of genetically engineered food sold in British Columbia. This Bill also establishes a GE Food Labelling Advisory Panel to advise and make recommendations on matters relating to the proposed legislation.

Copyright © 2001: Queen's Printer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada