Review of Spring Session 2022
The National Council and the Council of States deny animal dignity
In the spring session of 2022, the National Council and the Council of States took the final vote on the initiative against factory farming. The parliament rejected the initiative and the counter-proposal, putting vested interests above animal dignity and the health of animals and humans. Apart from this disappointing decision, the session also brought some welcome highlights: The National Council adopted the Haab motion, which aims to ban the import of foie gras. In addition, Meret Schneider submitted a motion to the Federal Council to ban invasive experiments on primates. This was a direct reaction to our Primate Initiative in Basel. Below you will find our overview of the last session.
Procedural requests considered
Initiative against factory farmingPopular initiative and direct counter-proposal
After the National Council blocked any improvements in animal welfare in December, the Council of States has now also recommended the rejection of both the initiative and the counter-proposal. This refusal demonstrates how great the political weight of the meat and dairy lobby is in parliament. We advocate for the better treatment of animals living on farms. Both humans and non-human animals have a need for physical and mental integrity and do not want to suffer. The current animal protection law does not support these needs. It is now up to the electorate to send a strong signal this autumn against the tremendous animal suffering caused by factory farming.
Import ban on foie grasMartin Haab, Swiss People’s Party
With a large majority, the National Council adopted the Haab motion to ban the import of foie gras. The production of foie gras is associated with enormous suffering for geese and has been banned in Switzerland for over 40 years. The geese are force-fed several times a day with a metal tube inserted into their throats until their livers reach an oversized volume. An import ban on foie gras is a clear signal against these cruel practices. We hope that the Council of States will follow this landmark decision when it deliberates in the summer session.
Guarantee consumers a declaration of the country of origin on food produced or prepared abroadJacques Nicolet, Swiss People’s Party
This motion was adopted by the National Council last September and now by the Council of States in the spring session. It aims to guarantee that consumers know where their processed or prepared food comes from. With more transparency, consumers can make informed decisions. However, being informed alone is not enough to bring about a change in consumer behaviour. Structural changes are needed. We aim to trigger these with the initiative against factory farming.
Prevent animal cruelty to horses at international competitionsMeret Schneider, Green Party
Meret Schneider has raised questions to the Federal Council on various points concerning the welfare of horses at international competitions. The Federal Council referred to the various regulations around this type of competition to ensure the welfare of the horses. Our position is that animals have no place in sporting competitions. Apart from the stress caused by transportation (often lasting over eight hours) and the pressure to perform, competitions do not correspond with the natural behaviour of horses.
Why are the negative side effects of Swiss meat products, in terms of health, climate, and biodiversity, not communicated to consumers?Regula Rytz, Green Party
Regula Rytz, member of the National Council for the Greens, asked why the negative impacts of meat productsare not communicated to consumers. The Federal Council replied that it was in favour of the promotional measures for Swiss meat. Their reasoning was that the standards of animal welfare, ecology, and food safety are very high in Switzerland and that consumers should recognise this. A communication of the associated harms would be paradoxical and would at best lead to a shift of undesirable environmental effects abroad. In our view, the argument that a shift abroad would take place is not acceptable, as the same could be said about our existing, comparatively high standards.
An independent control of stunning and bleeding in slaughterhousesMeret Schneider, Green Party
This motion called on the Federal Council to create an obligation for cantons to increase the veterinary staff on hand to monitor stunning and bleeding in slaughterhouses. In view of the suffering that stunning and bleeding causes, it is unacceptable that the supervision of slaughter is based on self-monitoring. These are delicate processes from an animal welfare perspective. The animals deserve independent checks to be carried out by well-staffed veterinary authorities.
New procedural requests
No use of horse hormones in pig farmingMeret Schneider, Green Party
With this motion, Meret Schneider called on the Federal Council to ban the use of equine chorionic gonadotropin in pig breeding. In its natural form, this hormone comes from the blood of pregnant mares and is extracted in large amounts in so-called ‘blood farms’. This cruel method is used to increase the reproduction rate of sows and causes great suffering to the mares. When used in synthetic form, it causes health problems as the pigs’ bodies are not used to receiving hormones in such large quantities. Problems include miscarriages and birthing too many piglets for the mother’s number of teats.
Implement the dietary recommendations for less meat consumption overall, with a preference for regionally produced meatMartina Munz, Social Democratic Party
This motion called on the Federal Council to implement the nutritional recommendations already in place in Switzerland. These promote moderate meat consumption and less cruel production methods in canteens and other public sector settings. The motion also called for checks on how meat is advertised to consumers, and for limiting sales to meat produced in ‘animal welfare programmes’.
Strengthen the 3R competence of the cantonal animal experimentation commissionsMeret Schneider, Green Party
This motion aimed to strengthen the competence of the cantonal commissions for animal experiments with regard to the 3Rs (Refine, Reduce, Replace).. 3R expertise should be involved at all stages of experimentation. Researchers who develop alternative methods (for example, in vitro, microphysiological systems, microfluidic chip systems, and tissue engineering), or who review scientific articles on 3R methods in academic journals, should be considered experts for these purposes.
Stop invasive primate experimentsMeret Schneider, Green Party
This motion called upon the Federal Council to ban invasive experiments on primates. This would involve inserting a new paragraph in Article 20 of the Animal Protection Act, as follows: Invasive experiments of severity level 2 and 3 on primates are prohibited. Our fellow species are also capable of experiencing pain and fear. In addition to physical symptoms and stress, experiments regularly violate their integrity and dignity. Such a ban would be a fundamental step towards changing our relationship with non-human animals for the better.
Reduction of antibiotic use in livestock farming, and improved data on antibiotic use in livestock farmingMeret Schneider, Green Party
With these two motions, Meret Schneider called on the Federal Council to ensure better control, on the one hand, and a reduction of reserve antibiotics on the other. Data on category of use and the number of animals should be collected. The use of antibiotics should also be reduced by changing the living conditions of individuals in animal husbandry.
Other important procedural requests
- A shift from highly bred egg-laying hens and fast growth broiler breeds towards better animal welfare breeds – Martina Munz, Social Democratic Party (Learn more)
- Measures to curb the illegal import of dogs – Katja Christ, Green Liberal Party (Learn more)
- Averting the looming food crisis due to the situation in Ukraine through a package of measures to safeguard and strengthen food production – Jacques Nicolet, Swiss People’s Party (Learn more)
- Becoming more self-sufficient – Pierre-André Page, Green Party (Learn more)
- Strengthening the degree of self-sufficiency with more domestic plant products – Kilian Baumann, Green Party (Learn more)