Sunday, November 27, 2005

Switzerland votes on GM crop ban

Imogen Foulkes BBC News, Berne
Switzerland is holding a vote on a proposal to ban all genetically modified crops for a five-year period.
Supporters of the proposal, including many farmers, say a ban would allow more time to assess the possible risks of GM crops before introducing them.
But the country's influential biotechnology industry has been campaigning hard against a ban.
It says Switzerland must not turn away from new developments which could harm domestic scientific research.
Consumer boycott
The Swiss have long been suspicious of genetically modified crops and have so far resisted them.
Only one tiny experimental GM crop of wheat has ever been grown on Swiss soil, by scientists at the University of Zurich.
Many Swiss farmers want to keep it that way. Their small steep plots do not yield huge harvests, and in order to make a living they have been building up a niche market for organic produce.
They fear the introduction of GM crops could undermine that.
Surveys show Swiss consumers would not buy GM produce.
The EU lifted its own moratorium on GM crops last year. Switzerland, although not a member of the EU, is under pressure to do the same.
The country's biotechnology industry is warning a ban on GM crops could be damaging because it would impose restrictions that might prevent Swiss researchers from keeping up with the rest of the world.
Story from BBC NEWS: 2005/11/27 03:48:15 GMT© BBC MMV


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