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Rejection of environmental initiatives: Swiss population votes against more organics

by Michael Stahl (comments: 0)

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Switzerland: No to environmental measures © Pixabay / hpgruesen

Swiss citizens voted against stricter environmental protection requirements for farmers. In a referendum in June, the majority of the voting population rejected, among other things, two agricultural initiatives that provided for stricter regulations on the protection of drinking water and the use of pesticides.

60.6 percent of the population voted against the popular initiative "For a Switzerland without synthetic pesticides". The aim of the initiative was to ban synthetic pesticides in Switzerland in principle. The import of food produced with the use of pesticides was also to be banned.

A second initiative was also rejected by more than 60 percent of the population. The initiative demanded that direct payments to farmers should only flow if additional conditions were met. Farmers would only receive subsidies if they do not treat their animals with antibiotics as a preventive measure, only keep as many animals as they can feed with their own fodder and do not use pesticides. In addition, the so-called "Drinking Water Initiative" made stipulations aimed at reducing nitrate in the soil.

Bio Suisse and IG Bio against the initiatives

The two agricultural initiatives, which were supported by various environmental associations, including Greenpeace, WWF Switzerland and the country's oldest nature conservation organisation, Pro Natura, were intended to further boost the production of organic food in Switzerland. In 2020, the organic share of the food market was 10.8 per cent, according to Bio Suisse figures. However, in addition to the farmers' association and its warning that a "yes" vote would result in less domestic production and more imports, including higher food prices, the country's organic associations, of all people, were opposed.

The Swiss Organic Interest Group (IG Bio) rejected both initiatives, arguing among other things that the bans were too comprehensive. Here, too, they feared more imports and higher production costs.

In mid-April, the delegates of the organic umbrella organisation Bio Suisse voted against the drinking water initiative. The association said that it was aware of the problem of pesticide residues in drinking water. However, they felt that the solution was too one-sidedly focused on farmers. Bio Suisse was already in favour of the pesticide ban at the end of 2020, but the association did not want to campaign for it publicly in the run-up to the vote.

In addition to the initiatives, a law to reduce CO2 emissions that had been planned for many years also failed on Sunday; 51.6 percent rejected it. With the law, Switzerland wanted to reduce its CO2 emissions by half by 2030 compared to 1990 and thus meet its targets under the Paris Climate Agreement.


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