13 September – 1 October 2021

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

Germany is planning to ban advertising for cheap meat. Such a move would also be of great significance in Switzerland, especially for the 80 million animals that are slaughtered in this country each year and whose value is nowhere near reflected in the price of the meat. Meat products are often sold at huge discounts as ‘loss leaders’. This practice was also objected to recently by the Federal Office for Agriculture. During question time, Martina Munz, member of the Swiss National Council (Social Democratic Party), therefore asked the Federal Council if it would be prepared to ban (or at least restrict) advertising for undersold meat in Switzerland, too, as part of the sustainable food policy.

However, 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 any time soon. This is not only disappointing, it is also inconsistent, because the Federal Council is thereby 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 the appropriate action to meet them!

This motion calls on the Federal Council to amend the Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Utility Articles, so that food which has been produced or prepared abroad clearly shows the country of origin. Despite the Federal Council’s recommendation to reject the motion, the National Council has adopted it. The decision is now with the Council of States. Information about the country of origin is often missing or concealed for animal products, especially processed ones. Sentience Politics is therefore generally in favour of making suppliers declare the country of origin.

After being adopted by the National Council last year, a motion by Bea Heim, former member of the National Council, has unfortunately been rejected by the Council of States and is no longer on the table. We are disappointed by this result.

After all, international comparisons from 2015 show that Swiss dairy cows are injected with significantly more antibiotics than cows in other European countries. Despite measures taken by the federal government – and despite the fact that animals which are kept in animal-friendly conditions and without the use of antibiotics are healthier (as confirmed by Agroscope) – this figure has decreased only marginally in recent years. The problem is that incentives in the area of animal husbandry are misaligned. In other words, using antibiotics is financially more worthwhile than not using them. As a result, antibiotic-resistant bacteria are establishing themselves in our food chain, posing an enormous threat to humans, animals and the environment.

We have already discussed this procedural request in detail in one of our newsletters: The postulate of Benjamin Roduit, member of the National Council (Die Mitte). He called on the Federal Council to compile a report on how not eating meat 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. On the other hand, excessive consumption of red meat and, in particular, processed meat products can lead to certain 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 postulate was withdrawn on the basis of this explanation.

New procedural requests

With this interpellation, Meret Schneider is seeking to prevent cruelty to donkeys. In Africa and South America, donkeys are gathered together en mass 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 also be obtained easily in Europe and Switzerland. With donkeys now at risk of extinction in countries 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.

With this interpellation, Martina Munz is calling on the Federal Council to create a legal basis for the subsidisation of decentralised slaughter capacities and to take corresponding measures. Due to the declining number of slaughterhouses, animals are having to be transported over increasingly long distances. Livestock from the mountains, especially animals from animal welfare programmes, 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. A legal basis therefore needs to be created for the subsidisation of regional slaughter capacities. A small step – but one in the right direction.

With this motion, the Federal Council is being called on to examine how the proportion of locally-sourced and plant-based foods could be increased in public food service establishments and to what extent high-yield vegetables that are unsold in retail outlets could be used by these establishments. The motion is aimed at achieving the federal government’s own goal of following a diet that is as locally-sourced and seasonal as possible, and reducing meat consumption to one third of its current level as part of the food strategy. As public food establishments are funded by federal money, they would not incur any additional costs or expenses. Sentience Politics is convinced that more local sourcing and less meat consumption would be highly beneficial – for consumers, animals and the environment.

  • 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)
  • Using 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 thanks to conservation agriculture – 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)