Regulation of genetically modified organisms in Switzerland

The regulation of genetically modified organisms in Switzerland is established notably by the Federal Constitution and the "Federal Act on Non-Human Gene Technology".[1][2]

The use of genetically modified organisms (plants and animals) in Swiss agriculture is currently prohibited by a moratorium ; but some genetically modified organisms received import authorisations.


In 1992, Swiss voters voted in favour of the introduction of an article about assisted reproductive technologies and genetic engineering in the Swiss Federal Constitution.

In 1995, Switzerland introduced regulations requiring labelling of food containing genetically modified organisms.[1] It was one of the first countries to introduce labelling requirements for GMOs.[1]

In 2003, the Federal Assembly adopted the "Federal Act on Non-Human Gene Technology".[3]


In 2005, Swiss voters voted in favour of a federal popular initiative introducing a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (plants and animals) in the Swiss agriculture from 2005 to 2010.[4] Later, the Swiss parliament extended this moratorium to 2013.[5]

Between 2007 and 2011, the Swiss Government funded thirty projects to investigate the risks and benefits of GMOs. These projects concluded that there were no clear health or environmental dangers associated with planting GMOs. However, they also concluded that there was little economic incentive for farmers to adopt GMOs in Switzerland.[5][4] The reaction to the report included concerns about it minimizing the risk of genetically modified crops while talking up their potential benefits, as well as questions about the cost of responsibility if there were a problem.[5] The Swiss parliament then extended the moratorium to December 2017.

Local level

As of 2016, six cantons (Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Jura, Ticino and Vaud) introduced laws against genetically modified organisms in agriculture.[6] And more than one hundred of communes declared themselves free of genetically modified organisms (French: sans OGM).[6]


The cantons of Switzerland perform tests to assess the presence of genetically modified organisms in foodstuffs. In 2008, 3% of the tested samples contained detectable amounts of GMOs.[7] In 2012, 12.1% of the samples analysed contained detectable amounts of GMOs (including 2.4% of GMOs forbidden in Switzerland).[7] Except one, all the samples tested contained less than 0.9% of GMOs; which is the threshold that impose labeling indicating the presence of GMOs in food.[7]

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 3 Franz Xaver Perrez, "Taking consumers seriously: the Swiss regulatory approach to genetically modified food", New York University Environmental Law Journal, vol. VIII-3, 2000 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
  2. Franz Xaver Perrez, "GMOs and International Law: The Swiss Example", Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, vol. 14-2, pp. 161–172, 2005.
  3. Federal Act on Non-Human Gene Technology, Federal Chancellery of Switzerland (page visited on 14 November 2013).
  4. 1 2 Benefits and risks of the Deliberate Release of Genetically Modified Plants - National Research Program NRP59, Swiss National Science Foundation, 28 August 2012 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
  5. 1 2 3 GM plants represent low risk, say scientists, Swissinfo, 28 August 2012 (page visited on 1 October 2012).
  6. 1 2 (French) Magalie Goumaz, "Menace sur les cantons sans OGM", Le Temps, Friday 22 July 2016 (page visited on 22 July 2016).
  7. 1 2 3 (French) Fabien Fivaz, "OGM en augmentation dans nos assiettes malgré le moratoire", Stop OGM infos, number 53, November 2013 (publication of the Swiss Alliance for Agriculture Without Genetic Engineering, Alliance suisse pour une agriculture sans génie génétique).

See also

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