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Old 20-09-2003, 02:32 PM
David Kendra
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September 19, 2003
Environmental groups, consumers and farmers have called for a nationwide
vote on the use of genetically modified crops.
The group collected over 121,000 signatures supporting a five-year
moratorium on GM crops, after parliament threw out the proposal in June.
By law, if a citizen can collect over 100,000 signatures within 18 months of
a parliamentary decision, they can force a nationwide vote on the issue.
It took the ³Stop GMO² (genetically modified organisms) initiative only
seven months to gather the required amount.
Maya Graf, of the Green Party, said the speed with which the signatures were
collected showed how concerned the Swiss are about GM.
According to the initiative, between 70 and 80 per cent of consumers refuse
to eat food containing GMOs.
The initiative calls for a ban on the farming of GM crops for use in food
and the importing of GM seeds and fodder.
One of the group¹s main concerns is that GM crops could contaminate non-GM
crops in neighbouring fields.
Fernand Cuche, a Green Party member, said the moratorium would allow more
time to investigate the possible risks of GM crops.
³[The moratorium] is an indispensable precautionary measure,² he said. ³We
need more time to assess the risks.²
Parliamentary opposition
Parliament rejected the moratorium in June mostly because of fears that a
freeze would jeopardise Switzerland¹s standing in the field of agricultural
research and cost jobs.
But those backing the moratorium argue it would not have any impact.
The proposed freeze does not include research. It would allow continued test
crops in open fields, provided there were time and space limitations.
Switzerland is so far free of GM crops. The country¹s two largest retailers,
Coop and Migros refuse to sell or stock GM products.

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