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Swiss pledge to delay GM foods


The UK's fears about GM foods, and the insistence of the government that GM trials should continue - highlighted by the publication of the Consumers' Association report which we report on elsewhere today - are shared by the Swiss public and authorities, it seems.

Earlier this week, the Swiss parliament rejected a five-year moratorium on outdoor trials of GM crops, prompting outrage from GM opponents who have called for a referendum on the whole GM issue.

The narrow victory for legislation regulating the use of GM products, which includes the approval of outdoor trials, was a bow for GM opponents, who had called for the five-year moratorium on moving tests from laboratories to farmers' fields in order to better assess the risk that such trials could pose.

The new regulations will also tighten the labelling laws on GM products, but anti-GM activists had called for more time to assess the impact on the environment, and on human health, of genetic modification of food.

Now a coalition of environmentalists and farmers, seeking to keep Switzerland GM-free, have said they will seek a referendum on GM foods in Switzerland, which they hope will impose a 10-year moratorium on GM foods.

Given the closeness of the vote in parliament, and Europe-wide concerns over GM foods, such a referendum would almost certainly delay the introduction of GM foods into Switzerland, and the Bern government will have to think long and hard about whether or not to press ahead with trials in the face of such strong public opposition.

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