The National Council on Wednesday rejected the initiative against intensive agriculture by 111 votes to 60 and 19 abstentions. He also turned down any counter-proposal that might open up a less divisive debate on the matter. The Council of States has not yet decided.
The popular initiative aims to ban intensive animal husbandry in Switzerland within 25 years. She wants to anchor organic norms in the Constitution for the protection of animals. Finally, it asks the Confederation to regulate imports of animals and animal products to protect Swiss agriculture.
The text was largely not unanimous in the Nacional. Only the Greens and a few socialists defended it unreservedly. Mass production is contrary to animal welfare. Where many animals gather, there is cannibalism and early deaths, according to Léonore Porchet (Greens/VD).
For her, animals should be considered living beings and not goods. “Even at home, meat doesn’t always come from idyllic farms as advertising represents them to us,” recalled Gabriela Suter (PS/SO). Intensive agriculture harms the environment and poses a danger to health, Christophe Clivaz (Greens/VS) also highlighted.
New attack on agriculture
The right sees this initiative as a new “crusade” against Swiss agriculture. “Switzerland is the only country in the world to have such strict legislation and to regulate the maximum numbers of birds, pigs and calves”, recalled Jean-Pierre Gschwind (Centro/JU), a veterinarian by profession.
“Mass creation does not exist here,” added Jean-Pierre Grin (UDC/VD). We are a long way from Germany, for example, where 77% of poultry fattening farms have more than 50,000 animals. Organic labels have also proven themselves, noted Doris Fiala (PLR/ZH).
The initiative entails all sorts of collateral damage, according to the UDC, the Center and the PLR. And to cite inordinately a risk of rising food prices, complaints directed at producers rather than large retailers or a possible violation of rules relating to international trade.
PS isn’t entirely convinced either. The size of groups of animals kept is not in itself a criterion of quality of life. But for socialists and green liberals, there is still room to improve farm animal welfare.
They defended a median solution that would avoid a new hate campaign with the agricultural world, as happened with the phytosanitary initiatives. For Health Minister Alain Berset, the initiative also has many flaws. Hence the idea of developing a direct counterproject.
The Federal Council intends to enshrine animal welfare in the Constitution. It sets out three requirements, namely animal-friendly housing, regular departures and respectful slaughter conditions. These basic requirements would be no problem for the overwhelming majority of breeders in Switzerland, according to Samuel Bendahan (PS/VD).
But for the right, the government’s counter-project solves nothing. This would impose new requirements on domestic production without any obligations for imported meat. “We should not regulate in the Constitution what falls into the law”, stressed Simone de Montmollin (PLR/GE), specifying that the law is sufficient as it stands.
Arguments that convinced: Nacional did not enter the question of the direct counter-project by 107 votes against 81. A proposal by the PVL to develop an indirect counter-project did not have any more chances.
The “No to Intensive Agriculture in Switzerland (Intensive Agriculture Initiative)” initiative was launched by Franz Weber Foundation President Vera Weber, members of Sentience Politics and animal protection organizations, as well as national adviser Bastien Girod (Greens/ ZH).
This article was automatically published. source: ats