The government's ethics commission has called for a moratorium on the commercial sale of genetically-modified organisms.
The commission said experiments with GMOs should be allowed to proceed, but only on condition that they do not lead to the immediate commercial release of genetically-altered products.
The ethics commission shied away from recommending a time limit for the proposed moratorium, but made it clear that GMOs should be kept off the market until the issue had been properly debated.
"The moratorium gives us time for an ethical dialogue: to debate the issue publicly and without economic pressure," said Florianne Koechlin, a biologist and member of the ethics commission. "These are important questions that have to be discussed with everybody in a democratic society."
The commission's proposal is a slap in the face for the government, which has already made clear its opposition to a moratorium or ban on GMOs, saying it favours strict controls only.
The issue now goes before the Swiss parliament. The Senate is due to tackle it first, in its June session; it will then go before the House of Representatives.
swissinfo with agencies