The Swiss Federal Council (government) has voted to extend the country’s moratorium on genetically modified (GM) plants for a further three years beyond the current expiry date of November 2010, Dow Jones reports.
The extension is to allow time for a national research programme into the benefits and risks of GM crops to be completed and the results assessed. Questions over the biological safety of GM plants and the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops are being addressed.
The Council imposed a moratorium on the commercial cultivation of GM crops in 2005, on the basis that there was no demand for them in Switzerland at the time and that big gaps remained in scientific knowledge about the risks of this technology.
Shortly after that, the research programme was launched, and this is expected to reach a conclusion around the middle of 2012. However, the Council said last week that it must be allowed to take its course without political pressure.
According to the Council, the moratorium has not caused any obvious problems, either for the farming industry, researchers, or international relations. In fact, it claimed, Swiss farmers have benefited from being able to market their produce on international markets as GM-free.