Via the upcoming - June 13 – referendum, Switzerland could become the first European country to ban artificial pesticides. Supporters of the initiative hope a ‘yes’ vote will trigger similar prohibitions elsewhere.
According to supporters aiming to outlaw the use of products made by agro-chemical giants such as Switzerland’s Syngenta and Germany’s Bayer and BASF, at this point in time, only the Asian nation of Bhutan has a complete ban on synthetic pesticides.
Supporters of the ban say the artificial products cause serious health problems and reduce biodiversity. Manufacturers say their pesticides are rigorously tested and regulated, can be used safely and crop yields would slump without them.
Another initiative to be voted on the same day aims to improve the quality of Switzerland’s drinking water and food by stopping direct subsidies to farmers who use artificial pesticides and antibiotics in livestock.
The Swiss nation been very divided, with intense debates over the initiatives; the votes look set to be close. A recent Tamedia poll showed 48% of voters favoured the drinking water initiative and 49% supported the pesticide ban.
Euronews.com reports that, if adopted, the proposals give farmers up to 10 years to make the transition, which would allow Switzerland to become a pioneer in organic food as well as an example to the rest of the world.