Regulation of genetically modified organisms in Switzerland
In 1995, Switzerland introduced regulations requiring labelling of food containing genetically modified organisms. It was one of the first countries to introduce labelling requirements for GMOs.
In 2005, Swiss voters voted in favour of a federal popular initiative introducing a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (plants and animals) in the Swiss agriculture from 2005 to 2010. Later, the Swiss parliament extended this moratorium to 2013.
Between 2007 and 2011, the Swiss Government funded thirty projects to investigate the risks and benefits of GMOs. These projects concluded that there were no clear health or environmental dangers associated with planting GMOs. However, they also concluded that there was little economic incentive for farmers to adopt GMOs in Switzerland. The reaction to the report included concerns about it minimizing the risk of genetically modified crops while talking up their potential benefits, as well as questions about the cost of responsibility if there were a problem. The Swiss parliament then extended the moratorium to December 2017.
The cantons of Switzerland perform tests to assess the presence of genetically modified organisms in foodstuffs. In 2008, 3% of the tested samples contained detectable amounts of GMOs. In 2012, 12.1% of the samples analysed contained detectable amounts of GMOs (including 2.4% of GMOs forbidden in Switzerland). Except one, all the samples tested contained less than 0.9% of GMOs; which is the threshold that impose labelling indacating the presence of GMOs in food.
Notes and references
- Franz Xaver Perrez, "Taking consumers seriously: the Swiss regulatory approach to genetically modified food", New York University Environmental Law Journal, vol. VIII-3, 2000 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
- Franz Xaver Perrez, "GMOs and International Law: The Swiss Example", Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, vol. 14-2, pp. 161–172, 2005.
- Federal act on non-human gene technology, www.admin.ch (page visited on 14 November 2013).
- Benefits and risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants - National Research Program NRP 59, Swiss National Science Foundation, 28 August 2012 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
- GM plants represent low risk, say scientists, Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, 28 August 2012 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
- (French) Fabien Fivaz, "OGM en augmentation dans nos assiettes malgré le moratoire", Stop OGM infos, no. 53, November 2013.