Senate Rejects Moratorium on GM Crops in Switzerland.
GENEVA, June 14 (Xinhua) -
The Swiss Senate has rejected a proposal to introduce a moratorium on the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) plants, local media reported Thursday.
However, it said strict scientific and environmental controls needed to be imposed. The House of Representatives has still to discuss the issue. A majority of 23 against 16 votes in the Senate on Thursday threw out a proposal for a moratorium until 2008 for the release of GM crops in agriculture, forestry and horticulture.
Supporters of the moratorium had argued that more time was needed to assess the possible risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for the environment and mankind. They also denied that a ban would block research or hamper the pharmaceutical and the chemical industry.
The Senate agreed to impose a strict set of restrictions on genetic engineering in the non-human field. The commercial use of GM crops depends on the federal authorities giving their approval. If the law takes effect, environmental groups will have the right to appeal, and foods containing GM ingredients will have to be clearly labelled. These safeguards took into account sufficiently the concerns of critics of genetic engineering.
In other business, the Senate unanimously approved a 10-year ban on the commercial use of genetically engineered animals. The two-day debate highlighted the dilemma facing many of the senators, which is to weigh up the advantages and potential dangers that could result from GMOs. In 1998, Swiss voters turned down a proposal to introduce a wide-ranging ban on GMOs, including a ban on the patenting of animals and plants.