The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) has called on Switzerland to impose a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It said that although Swiss farms were free of GMOs, the law should be tightened to prevent their use in the future.
Speaking in Bern on Tuesday, Bernadette Oehen of the WWF said a moratorium was in the interests of the environment, the public and agriculture.
The call came as a Swiss parliamentary committee recommended stringent controls on such crops, but rejected a total ban.
So far Swiss farmers and retailers have steered clear of GMOs, and the WWF wants to ensure that they continue to do so.
Oehen said Swiss farmers had everything to gain by continuing to keep their fields free of GMOs, and that they risked alienating consumers if they switched to such crops.
But representatives of Switzerland's farming and retail industries said keeping Switzerland GMO-free would come at a price.
Stephan Baer, a cheese maker from canton Schwyz, said all producers, suppliers and distributors would need to keep a close eye on all products to ensure they were GMO-free.
He said production costs would therefore be significantly higher, and that these would have to be passed on to consumers.
The WWF's call comes months before the Swiss parliament is due to debate legislation governing the use of gene technology.
A Swiss parliamentary committee charged with investigating the issue on Tuesday recommended that tight controls be imposed on the use of GMOs, but stopped short of calling for a complete ban.
swissinfo with agencies