On 7 February, the EU Parliament voted in favour of approving the new genomic breeding methods in the EU. MEPs voted in favour of a corresponding proposal by 307 votes to 263 with 41 abstentions. Further deliberations will now follow.
Authorisation of new crop protection products: federal government hesitates, parliament exerts pressure
In Switzerland, the authorisation of new crop protection products is stalling. And there is a disturbing asymmetry. The federal government immediately withdraws authorisations for crop protection products that the EU takes off the market.
It is disappointing what the Federal Council announced in a media release on 25 October 2023 on the subject of new genetic methods. Both in terms of content and timing, the government is putting on the brakes. The dithering is incomprehensible.
No European country applies for more patents per capita than Switzerland. Patent protection is a mandatory prerequisite for research and development, a foundation of Swiss welfare.
The war between Russia and Ukraine threatens the global food supply. Security of supply is also becoming an issue in Switzerland. In the last spring session, parliamentarians from various parties wanted to know from the Federal Council how it intends to react to the changed global food supply situation. The Federal Council's replies do not yet reflect a fundamental reassessment of the situation.
According to the National Council, the Council of States has also spoken out in favor of a loosening of the Gene-Tech Moratorium. The Federal Assembly takes the arguments from the scientific community into account with the decision. The opportunities presented by new breeding technologies are greater than the risks. The Federal Council is now called upon to initiate the approval of new breeding methods.
The Council of States (upper house of the Federal Assembly of Switzerland) intends to allow genome editing provided that no foreign genetic material is inserted into new plant varieties through this method. The decision is causing consternation among genetic engineering skeptics. But you only have to look at their arguments to see that the opponents of genetic engineering are fighting with yesterday’s weapons.
The Swiss Federal Council and the National Council of Switzerland want to put new cultivation methods under the existing GMO moratorium. A majority of the SECC-S decided on Tuesday that the cultivation of genome-edited plants is to be permitted subject to requirements. We discussed this decision with Jan Lucht, an expert on biotechnology from scienceindustries.
At the end of June, the Federal Council published a message about the Gene Technology Act. In principle, the existing moratorium is to be extended until the year 2025.
In an effort to lower the risks of pesticide use, the Economic Affairs Committee of Switzerland’s Council of States has put forward a parliamentary initiative entitled “Reducing the Risks of Pesticide Use.”