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Greens slam plans for biotech plant

The former farmland at Galmiz is a possible site for a US biotech company Keystone Archive

Environmentalists have staged a protest against possible plans to build a pharmaceutical plant in a rural area in western Switzerland.

This content was published on April 3, 2005 - 15:10

They called for measures to protect agricultural land and demanded that zoning laws be respected.

Up to 2,000 people took part in the demonstration near the village of Galmiz on Sunday.

They accused the authorities of violating town and country planning regulations and destroying the natural habitat of the region.

In December the Fribourg cantonal authorities reclassified 55 hectares of farmland as an industrial zone, in an effort to persuade the United States pharmaceutical concern, Amgen, to build a production plant.

According to the protesters the move was a kowtow to a company which had given no firm guarantees that it would build the factory and create about 1,200 jobs.

Speakers at the demonstration said Galmiz was not an isolated case in Switzerland and the federal authorities had failed to block similar moves to reclassify farmland.

Amgen

Last Friday Amgen confirmed it was considering plans for a production plant in Galmiz, ending weeks of speculation.

But a company spokesman said no decision had been taken on whether the California-based firm needed a new factory.

He said the backing of the local population was an important element for the decision.

The local authorities of Galmiz have said they support Amgen’s plans.

The Swiss economics minister, Joseph Deiss, met company representatives last December to discuss tax breaks.

The company is also said to be considering other offers in Switzerland, the Irish Republic and Singapore.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The US company, Amgen, is the world’s largest biotechnology firm.
Its European headquarters are based in the Swiss city of Lucerne.
Under Swiss law, cantons and municipalities have the final say on zoning issues, not the federal authorities.

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