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Swiss people's initiative Animal rights groups seek to ban foie gras, other imports

A group of ducks

Animal rights groups want to ban the import of products like foie gras (specially fattened duck or goose liver) whose production is generally not allowed within Switzerland

(Keystone)

Swiss animal welfare organisations plan to launch an initiative to ban the import of certain animal products such as foie gras, frog legs and shark fins after a bill to the same effect failed in the Senate last week.

“The Swiss Animal Alliance is working to quickly launch an initiative to stop the import of products that constitute animal abuse,” Michael Gehrken, head of the Alliance, told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper. He said that initial conversations about launching the initiative had already taken place and that the process of gathering the necessary signatures to bring it to a vote will begin in early 2018.

A bill sponsored by parliamentarian Matthias Aebischer of the left-wing Social Democrats seeking the same ban passed the House of Representatives in June but failed in the Senate with 37 votes against and four votes in favour.

Aebischer sought the ban in order, he says, to protect farmers who are not allowed by law to produce animal products such as foie gras within Swiss borders.

“We have a good system and most of our farmers do exemplary work, so it can’t be that we hurt their business with products encouraging animal abuse which they are not allowed to produce here,” the parliamentarian told the NZZ am Sonntag.

He argued that products such as foie gras, particularly popular in French-speaking Switzerland, are also available in varieties that “cost a bit more” but that are produced without subjecting animals to abuse.

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