Switzerland is to vote on banning the use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture after more than 100,000 people signed an initiative calling for a ban.
The initiative, launched by a-political campaign group Future3, proposes banning all synthetic pesticides in agriculture.
But the Swiss Farmers’ Union has rejected the calls for a ban, pointing out organic produce made up less than 15 per cent of the market.
Switzerland’s popular initiative system allows the people to suggest law changes if they have more than 100,000 supporters.
The decision then goes to a referendum, with the potential for changing the constitution.
However, it could be at least three years until the Swiss people vote on this measure.
The formal petition was presented to the Federal Chancellery in Bern on May 25.
Future3 claimed it was ‘quite possible’ to meet the needs of the Swiss population without pesticides and it would not drive up the price of food as ‘farmers who no longer use synthetic pesticides in their work methods are seeing their costs significantly reduce’.
If the proposal were to become law, there would be a knock-on effect for any countries importing product into Switzerland, as the initiative also calls for the ban to cover imported food which has been produced with synthetic pesticides.
Under the law, neonicotinoids and glyphosate would be banned and phased out over 10 years. Natural pesticides and treatments used in organic farming would be allowed.
The Swiss Farmers’ Union warned the people behind the initiative wanted to convert the whole of Switzerland to organic farming, and only allow the import of organic food.
A spokesman said: “In Switzerland, organic products currently account for less than 15 per cent of the total market.
“In other words, the majority of our consumers do not rely primarily on organic products. That is why we reject the initiative.”