Voters in Switzerland Sunday overwhelmingly rejected an initiative attempting to impose a complete ban on all kinds of experimentation on humans and animals. The initiative also included a ban on the import of any new products that were developed using such testing.
About 44 percent of the eligible voters participated in the referendum. According to the data published by Switzerland’s Federal Statistical Office, only 20.9 percent of the voters voted in favor of the initiative.
Supporters of the initiative wanted to halt all testing on living beings, calling it unethical and unnecessary. However, they ran into opposition from Switzerland’s pharmaceutical lobby, which emphasized the economic damage that could be caused due to such a blanket ban.
Members of the “No” committee were delighted with Sunday’s resounding victory. Swiss People’s Party parliamentarian Martin Haab said: “This shows that the people were aware of the consequences for their health if the initiative had been accepted.”
Throughout the campaign, the initiative had very limited public support. The initiative committee also failed to garner support from any major political party. Parliament considered the initiative to be too extreme and feared that it would adversely impact medical and scientific research in the country. The current law only allows animal experiments in the absence of any other alternatives.
Campaigners in favor of the initiative had argued that animal testing leads to the unnecessary suffering of animals, given that there exist proven alternatives to conduct such research. Renato Werndli, co-chairman of the initiative committee, said, “It’s a shame. Switzerland could have been the first country to ban animal testing. I don’t understand why people didn’t have more empathy for animals that continue to suffer. We tried to convince people with scientific facts but they didn’t believe us.”
This referendum constitutes the fourth time that Swiss voters rejected such a ban on animal testing.