Review of Autumn Session 2021
Federal Council: Advertise undersold meat? No problem!
In the autumn session 2021, there was a lot of discussion around the topic of food. The many talking points included the obligation of suppliers to declare the origin of products, the question of whether we should still be allowed to eat steak, and a potential advertising ban for undersold meat. We have created an overview for you below.
Procedural requests considered
Ban on advertising for undersold meatMartina Munz, Social Democratic Party
Germany is planning to ban advertising for ‘cheap’ meat. This move would be significant in Switzerland, especially for the 80 million animals that are slaughtered each year. Their value is nowhere near reflected in the price of the end product. Meat is often sold at huge discounts as ‘loss leaders’. This practice was objected to recently by the Federal Office for Agriculture. During question time, Martina Munz, member of the Swiss National Council (Social Democratic Party), asked the Federal Council if it would be prepared to ban (or at least restrict) advertising for undersold meat in Switzerland as part of the sustainable food policy.
The proposal was rejected by the Federal Council with reference to the legal basis for advertising Swiss meat (Art. 12 AgricA). Regrettably, it does not envisage changing the regulations anytime soon. This is inconsistent. The Federal Council is acting contrary to its own sustainable food goals agreed within the context of the 2030 Agenda. We believe that if you set yourself ambitious targets, you should take action to meet them.
Guarantee consumers a declaration of origin for food produced or prepared abroadJacques Nicolet, Swiss People’s Party
This motion called on the Federal Council to amend the Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles, to declare country of origin. The National Council has adopted it, despite the Federal Council’s rejection recommendation. The decision will now go to the Council of States. We are generally in favour of the motion.
Removing incentives for the excessive use of antibioticsBea Heim, Social Democratic Party
After being adopted by the National Council last year, this motion has unfortunately been rejected by the Council of States and is no longer on the table. We are disappointed by this result.
International comparisons from 2015 show that Swiss dairy cows are injected with more antibiotics than cows in other European countries. Despite measures taken by the federal government, and despite the fact that animals kept in reasonable conditions without the use of antibiotics are healthier (as confirmed by Agroscope), the amount has decreased only marginally. The problem is that using antibiotics is financially more worthwhile than not using them. As a result, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are establishing themselves in our food chain, and pose an enormous threat to humans, animals, and the environment.
Should we still be allowed to eat steak?Benjamin Roduit, ‘Die Mitte’ party
Benjamin Roduit, member of the National Council (Die Mitte), called on the Federal Council to compile a report on how vegetarianism affects the health of the Swiss population. In its response, the Federal Council stated that a vegetarian diet and moderate meat consumption can both be healthy. By contrast, excessive consumption of red meat and processed meat products can lead to adverse health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. People who follow a vegan diet should make sure they get sufficient vitamin B12. Roduit’s question was withdrawn on the basis of this explanation.
New procedural requests
Ban imports of donkey-hide gelatineMeret Schneider, Green Party
In Africa and South America, donkeys are gathered together under cruel conditions and then slaughtered. The donkey skins are shipped primarily to mainland China, but also to Hong Kong and Vietnam. The reason for the current boom is the surge in demand in China for ‘ejiao’ – a gelatine that is believed to help against anaemia and boost masculinity. Ejiao products can be obtained easily in Europe and Switzerland. With donkeys now at risk of extinction in placs such as Kenya, Botswana and Ghana, 18 countries worldwide have made it illegal to export donkey products. The Federal Council is being called on to clarify its stance on imports and possible restrictions relating to these products.
Subsidise regional slaughter facilities to avoid long-distance animal transportationMartina Munz, Social Democratic Party
Martina Munz is calling on the Federal Council to create a legal basis for the subsidisation of decentralised slaughter facilities. Due to the declining number of slaughterhouses, animals are having to be transported over longer distances. Livestock from the mountains have to endure the laborious process of being grouped together at intermediate hubs before being transported over long distances to the Central Plateau or Basel. These long transport routes cause the animals a great deal of stress and discomfort. This motion would be a small step, but in the right direction.
More locally-sourced food in subsidised food establishmentsMeret Schneider, Green Party
This motion called for an examination of how the availability of locally-sourced and plant-based foods could be increased in public food settings. The motion is aimed at achieving the federal government’s own goal of increasing the sustainability of food, and reducing meat consumption to one third of its current level as part of the overall strategy. Public food establishments are funded by federal money, and so would not incur any additional costs. We agree that less meat consumption would be highly beneficial for consumers, animals, and the environment.
Other important procedural requests
- No butter imports if the price of milk doesn’t cover costs – Meret Schneider, Green Party (Learn more)
- One Health Strategy with systematic research into the spread of antibiotic resistance – Maya Graf, Green Party (Learn more)
- Use slaughter by-products as feed – Martina Munz, Social Democratic Party (Learn more)
- Value creation and planning certainty for dairy farmers – Meret Schneider, Green Party (Learn more)
- No additional incentives for milk imports! – Meret Schneider, Green Party (Learn more)
- Transformation into a sustainable food system – Christine Badertscher, Green Party (Learn more)
- Certificate of competence for horse owners – Meret Schneider, Green Party (Learn more)
- No cruel animal aids in equestrian sport – Meret Schneider, Green Party (Learn more)
- How many hunters are killing species on the red list? – Isabelle Chevalley, Green Liberal Party (Learn more)
- Agroscope stresses the importance of promoting honey bees and wild bees in agriculture – what action is the Federal Council taking? – Maya Graf, Green Party (Learn more)
- Modern wolf management – for the cohabitation of large predators, alpine cultivation, settlement and tourism – Nicolo Paganini, ‘Die Mitte’ party (Learn more)