The ban on cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in Switzerland, which expires at the end of 2017, will be extended for another four years, until 2021. Today the Parliament have approved, by 32 votes to two with two abstentions, the relevant revised federal law on genetic engineering. The research will continue to be possible. A motion to extend it until 2025 was rejected. The House of Representatives had previously agreed the extension to 2021.
With 25 votes against 18, the senators, contrary to the wishes of the Federal Council, decided that in Switzerland there will be no co-existence of GM and traditional crops.
Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard has unsuccessfully tried to convince the Senate about the coexistence of the two types of culture. All technologies are at the beginning of the risks, but the role of the legislature is to seek long-term solutions, not to prohibit the change, she argued, unsuccessfully, the environment minister.
"If Switzerland for the third time extended the moratorium without compensation, it would be a bad signal sent to our trading partners," she added. The cantons may in any case prohibit the co-existence in their territory, she underlined. The majority of senators, however, has relied on the uncertainties that still reigns in the field of GMO.
Currently the government only allows genetically modified crop field trials on a case-by-case basis under strict conditions. The plants have to be located in a covered area and monitored by the police to prevent vandalism by anti-GMO activists. They will have to be planted at least 300 metres from other species to prevent cross-pollination. Machinery and test materials have to be cleaned and correctly incinerated.
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