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Farmers ask voters to boost local food production

Green party backers turn out for the 'fair food initiative' in Bern last year Keystone

The leftwing farmers’ movement Uniterre has handed in an initiative promoting Swiss agriculture and sustainable food. Its so-called food sovereignty initiative gathered 109,000 signatures, enough to force a nationwide vote.

The initiative is one of three similar measures that campaigners have presented since the government’s revised agricultural policy for 2014-2017. The latest text, presented on Wednesday, expounds sustainable, climate friendly and genetic-free farming methods in Switzerland.

In particular, wants the government to boost the supply of “healthy food from a diverse agricultural system” that covers its own costs and in line with people’s social and environmental expectations. Another demand is that genetically-modified food should simply be banned in Switzerland.

Ulrike Minkner, Uniterre vice-president said it should provoke a “broad public discussion about nutrition and political connections with agriculture.”

More than 70 other organisations have lent their support to the initiative, including the global farmers’ movement Via Campesina.

It follows the 2014 Food Security initiative of the Swiss Farmers’ Association and the Fair Food initiative presented by the leftwing Green Party last November.

The government cabinet has recommended that voters reject the two previous agricultural initiatives.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR