Importing foie gras and skins: ending “hypocrisy”

Popular initiatives against the importation of foie gras and skins from abused animals are launched. Switzerland has high requirements, but authorizes such products resulting from cruelty abroad, according to the initiators, who denounce hypocrisy.

Force-feeding geese and ducks is considered animal cruelty and has been banned in Switzerland for more than 40 years, representatives of the Swiss Animal Alliance said on Wednesday. The day after the green light for their two initiatives, representatives of the initiative committees and partner organizations defended their arguments in Bern before the media.

The popular initiative “Yes to the ban on the importation of foie gras” (foie gras initiative) wants to constitutionally prohibit the importation of foie gras and products made with these offal. The one entitled ‘Yes to the ban on the import of fur products produced in conditions of cruelty to animals’ (fur initiative) also seeks to ban the import of fur.

great demand

Switzerland imports 200,000 kg of foie gras annually, according to the initiators. And each year, 400,000 ducks and 12,000 geese are force-fed and killed to specifically meet that demand.

Ditto for fur-based products. Swiss legislation imposes such high requirements on fur producers that domestic production would not be profitable. Result: around 350 tons of hides are imported per year, which corresponds to the slaughter of approximately 1.5 million animals.

More than half of these skins come from China, where the conditions of detention and slaughter of animals, sometimes skinned while still alive, are regularly pointed out. All breeding and slaughtering methods clearly violate Swiss animal welfare legislation.

End the hypocrisy

Swiss law prohibits animal abuse when it can be avoided. Local breeders and producers risk criminal penalties and fines for violating these provisions. “However, every year our country authorizes the importation of products whose production method is strictly prohibited in Switzerland”, insists the Swiss Animal Alliance.

“Our Parliament passes laws banning cruelty to animals, but accepts such cruelty if it is produced abroad,” the initiators write. With their two initiatives, they aim to ‘end this hypocrisy’.

They dismiss the argument that banning these imports would not be compatible with Switzerland’s international trade obligations. “All agreements provide for exceptions to measures necessary to protect public morals and the lives or health of animals,” says the Swiss Animal Alliance.

And to cite the bans on the import of seal, dog and cat skins already enshrined in the law. “The highest court of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has explicitly recognized that the protection of animals is part of public morality,” note the initiators. Arguments that also apply to foie gras.

Until December 28, 2023

Signature collection is officially launched. The two initiative committees have until December 28, 2023 to collect the required 100,000 signatures.

Well-known personalities, such as Swiss publicist Erich Gysling, television presenter Kurt Aeschbacher, State Councilor Thomas Minder (non-party/SH) and national councilors Doris Fiala (PLR/ZH) and Martina Munz (PS/SH), make part of both committees.

Several interventions along the same lines of the two initiatives are pending in Parliament. The Federal Council, which is not in favor of the import ban, says it is working on a declaration obligation for foreign products manufactured by methods banned in Switzerland.



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