Tuesday 23 October 2018

Swiss voters reject ‘fair food’ laws

The laws would have required the government to promote environmentally sound, animal-friendly and fairly produced food.

Cost was seen as one of the main reasons why the laws to protect farmers were rejected (Ben Birchall/PA)
Cost was seen as one of the main reasons why the laws to protect farmers were rejected (Ben Birchall/PA)

By Associated Press Reporter

Swiss voters have rejected two proposals aimed at protecting farmers and ensuring food from both domestic and foreign producers is healthier, more environmentally sound and animal-friendly.

Projections for public broadcaster SRF showed voters rejecting the Fair-Food Initiative, which would have required the government to promote environmentally sound, animal-friendly and fairly produced food, and could have involved requiring Swiss inspectors to travel abroad to conduct compliance checks.

A separate Food Sovereignty proposal aimed to underpin farmers’ salaries and ensure imported food meets Swiss standards has also been rejected by voters.

Proposals need a majority of both voters and cantons (states) to pass, and returns by early afternoon showed that more than half of the cantons had rejected both initiatives.

Cost concerns, government opposition and other factors appear to have dented public support for the proposals. The government argued that the Fair-Food Initiative could limit choice, raise prices and jeopardise Swiss commercial agreements with trading partners.

Voters did, however, appear set to approve a third measure that would require the Swiss government to do more to improve bicycle lanes and other infrastructure across the Alpine country.

Switzerland’s form of direct democracy gives voters a say several times a year on matters of public interest both national and local.

In a regional Swiss referendum, voters in the northeastern canton of St Gallen voted by a two-to-one margin to ban people from covering their faces in public if that endangers “public security” or “religious or social peace”.

The measure, widely described as a burka ban, follows a similar restriction already in Ticino, in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking south.

Press Association

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