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Pressure increases for gene technology moratorium

Genetically modifying organisms - like these mice - remains deeply controversial

(Keystone)

Opponents of gene technology have stepped up pressure for a moratorium on genetically engineering crops and animals in Switzerland.

They said the BSE crisis should serve as a lesson about the dangers of tampering with natural farming methods.

Outlining their opposition to gene technology at a press conference in Bern on Tuesday, environmental, consumer and animal rights groups said Swiss farming was suffering from a major credibility problem in the wake of the crisis over mad cow disease.

Martin Kamm, a spokesman for IP (Integrated Production) said Swiss agriculture could not weather another scandal. He said that to be competitive, Swiss farmers should concentrate on adopting natural agricultural methods.

Kamm added that there was widespread opposition to genetically engineered crops among the Swiss public. According to a survey commissioned by Interpharma, the organisation overseeing the Swiss pharmaceutical industry, 57 per cent of respondents were in favour of a ban on genetically modified foods.

The government has already said it is against any to a moratorium on genetically modified organisms.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Foundation for Consumer Protection emphasised the need for consumers to be given guarantees that they are being adequately informed about the products they buy.

They said that because agriculture in Switzerland is not being adequately protected, controls on food product labels urgently need tightening.

Environmental, consumer and animal rights groups say they are particularly concerned about the slowness with which legislation relating to gene technology (Gen-Lex) is being debated. The Senate will only discuss the controversial issue in March.

swissinfo with agencies

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