Jun 14, 2021
Ban on synthetic pesticides up for a vote in Switzerland

Switzerland could become the first European country to ban artificial pesticides in a June 13 referendum which backers of the initiative hope will trigger similar prohibitions elsewhere.

Globally, only Bhutan has a complete ban on synthetic pesticides, according to supporters aiming to outlaw the use of products made by agro-chemical giants such as Switzerland’s Syngenta and Germany’s Bayer and BASF.

According to a story by Farming Independent, supporters of the ban say the artificial products cause serious health problems and reduce biodiversity. Manufacturers say their pesticides are rigorously tested and regulated, can be used safely and crop yields would slump without them.

Another initiative to be voted on the same day aims to improve the quality of Switzerland’s drinking water and food by stopping direct subsidies to farmers who use artificial pesticides and antibiotics in livestock.

The Farming Independent story also said:

Switzerland has been starkly divided by an unusually bitter debate over the initiatives and the votes look set to be close. A recent Tamedia poll showed 48% of voters favored the drinking water initiative and 49% supported the pesticide ban.

If adopted, the proposals give farmers up to 10 years to make the transition, which would allow Switzerland to become a pioneer in organic food as well as an example to the rest of the world, Swiss wine maker Roland Lenz said.

“Clean water, one of the foundations of life, is endangered,” said Lenz, a 51-year-old organic farmer, whose vineyard is surrounded by farmers opposing the initiative.

Syngenta, which is headquartered in Switzerland and owned by China National Chemical Corp., opposes both initiatives, saying a ban would reduce agricultural yields by up to 40%.

“The consequences of not using them are clear: fewer regional products, higher prices, and more imports. This is not in the interest of consumers, nor is it in the interest of the environment,” a Syngenta spokesman said.

To view the entire Farming Independent story, visit here.

 




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