Switzerland heads to the polls today in a batch of referendums which could see the country become only the second in the world to ban artificial pesticides. The initiative aims to prohibit the use of artificial pesticides within 10 years.
Globally only Bhutan bans the chemicals. Laws to combat terrorism, cut CO2 emissions and provide emergency COVID-19 funding also face binding votes under the Swiss system of direct democracy. If approved, the proposals would amend the constitution while the government drafts implementation laws for parliament to address.
Supporters of the ban say that products made by agrochemical giants such as Switzerland’s Syngenta and Germany’s Bayer and BASF endanger health and the environment. Antoinette Gilson, a co-author of the Pesticides Initiative said that it’s vital to stop the use of pesticides which are causing serious health problems for people today and storing up problems for the future. However, manufacturers say their pesticides are rigorously tested and regulated, and crop yields would slump without them.
Voters will also decide on a separate Drinking Water initiative, which says artificial pesticides are polluting Switzerland’s water. It wants to redirect subsidies to farmers who do without them.