Seeds used in Switzerland can in future contain up to half a per cent of impurities from genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). The government said the limit was necessary to take account of the fact that a certain amount of contamination was inevitable.
Under the new rule, which will come into force on July 1, importers must take all the measures necessary to avoid the presence of GMOs in seed. Switzerland imports between 75 and 100 per cent of seed for maize, soya, rape and sugar beet crops.
In a statement, the government said there was no danger for the environment because the 0.5 per cent maximum was limited to GMOs whose compatibility with the environment had been tested in countries with similar legal requirements as Switzerland.
Environmental organisations have criticised plans to set an acceptable level for the presence of GMOs. During the process of consultation on the issue, they argued that it would pave the way for the gradual and uncontrolled introduction of GMOs.
However, the government said a total ban on any contamination was likely to lead to supply problems, as exporters of seed were not able to guarantee GMO-free products.
swissinfo with agencies