The National Council approved the proposal of its member Matthias Aebischer for a general ban on the import of products that have been manufactured in a cruel manner. In a letter to the Council of States dated November 22, 2017, Animal Trust
(Swiss animal welfare organization), Wildtierschutz Schweiz
(Swiss organization for wildlife protection), and TIR (all three organizations constitute the Alliance Animale Suisse
) called on the Council of States to accept Aebischer's proposal. Today, the Swiss parliament could have responded to the concerns of a large part of the population and taken a resolute step towards a more effective animal welfare policy; for what is regarded as cruelty to animals in Switzerland should not be supported in foreign countries through domestic demand.
Nonetheless, the Council of States rejected the proposal by 37 to 4 votes for fear of economic consequences which it deems too serious for the affected industries. According to the Council, it is also unclear whether such a regulation would significantly improve the welfare of animals. Furthermore, it believes that monitoring production methods abroad and the imports into Switzerland would be neither feasible nor effective. However, the Council of States has apparently recognized that there is indeed need for action and while rejecting Aebischer's proposal it introduced an obligation to declare food products.
Unfortunately, this declaration requirement relates exclusively to
edibles, while, for instance, reptile skins, down obtained from live
plucking, or growth promoting substances for pig fattening are excluded
from it. Moreover, this once again shifts responsibility to the
consumers who as a result are subject to excessive demands and are
expected to choose what products to buy in the midst of a "label jungle"
consisting of an increasing number of positive and negative
declarations which are largely euphemistic in nature. The declaration
requirement clearly fails to adequately address the problem because it
does not prevent products obtained from animal cruelty from being sold
and traded in Switzerland. An import ban, on the other hand, would have
benefited animals directly