In an apparent last-minute change of heart, Swiss voters last week rejected two proposals aimed at ensuring ethical production of both domestic and imported food, and government support for Swiss family farms - thousands of which have closed in recent years.
The “Fair Food” initiative, rejected by 61.3 percent of voters, required that food imported into the country meet Swiss standards of workers' conditions, environmental safety and animal welfare. That proposal included sending Swiss officials abroad to conduct compliance checks.
Also rejected by 68.4 percent of Swiss voters, a “Food Sovereignty” proposal called for state support for local family farms, higher tariffs on food imports, and tighter restrictions on foreign produce.
Opinion polls conducted before the vote showed strong backing for more investment in Switzerland's small family farms and for higher standards of imported food.
But warnings from the government that the measures were unenforceable, and from food retailers saying prices would rise, were enough to convince voters to say no.
Swiss Economy Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann called the proposals "dangerous" and said they could trigger tariff increases and backlash from international trading partners.
Swiss reject bids to improve food quality, protect farmers (The Washington Post)