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In Switzerland, a proposal by animal rights activists to ban completely experiments on animals will be put to a nationwide vote on 13th February 2022. However, the Swiss parliament considered it too extreme, and most politicians are opposed to it claiming that it may hamper medical and scientific research.

The citizens’ initiative proposes an end to all experiments on living creatures. That means the use of animals for education or training purposes and scientific research. 

This people’s initiative — a legal mechanism in which citizens can propose legislation if they gather at least 100,000 signatures in support of the proposal — aims to ban experimentation on humans too. It also asks for a ban on imports of new products developed using animal testing. It was launched by a citizens’ group in eastern Switzerland, and it is supported by about 80 organisations.

However, it is opposed by the Swiss government, all members of parliament, all political parties (although the Liberal Greens, Greens and Social Democrats want more funding for alternatives to animal testing), Universities, the National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation, and even some animal welfare organisations (the Swiss Society for the Protection of Animals).  Most of these believe that the federal legislation on the protection of animals from 2008 already gives them enough protection, but many of these types of laws just legitimise animal suffering in the name of science.  

This would be the fourth time Swiss voters will be voting on this issue. They already rejected three people’s initiatives for a ban in 1985 (70% against), 1992 (56% against) and 1993 (72% against), so it is unlikely that it will be approved this time around. However, every time a proposal like this is made, it brings the issue of vivisection to the public agenda and reignites the debate — which is not a bad thing.