Swiss to vote on animal and human testing ban

GENEVA (AP) — The Swiss will get their say on whether to allow animal and human testing of products sold in the rich Alpine country, the government said Friday, after concerns were raised by those who call the practices inhumane.

The federal government says petitioners successfully collected the minimum 100,000 signatures required to put their push for a “ban on human and animal experimentation” on the ballot.

The measure, if passed, would allow for limited testing if it was in the “overwhelming interest” of the specific animal or human subject. It would bar the import or export of products developed with use of animal testing and would allow public financing of alternative testing that was at least equal to amounts granted for animal tests in the past.

No date has been set for the ballot, which is part of Switzerland’s system of regular referendums giving voters a direct say in policymaking, but it is likely to take many months.

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The announcement comes just days after Switzerland’s Supreme Court invalidated the results of a referendum for the first time since such referendums began in 1848, according to Swiss media.

The high court ruled that a 2016 referendum that ended up penalizing married couples had been framed with flawed information. The measure has affected hundreds of thousands of couples more than activists had said it would and must be voted on again — if petitioners so decide.

As for other ballot initiatives, a poll released Friday by the gfs.bern agency for Switzerland’s public broadcaster found two-thirds of respondents support a referendum next month that aims to make Swiss firearms laws more in line with European Union rules adopted in the wake of extremist attacks.

The Swiss government supports the gun initiative being voted on May 19. Switzerland is theoretically bound to honor the EU rule changes as part of its commitments as a member of Europe’s Schengen travel zone, which allows for free movement across many European borders.

Critics, however, say the measure would force Switzerland to bend to EU dictates and limit the traditional Swiss freedom to bear arms. Proponents say it is needed to better fight arms trafficking and improve information-sharing about weapons flows within the Schengen zone.

Switzerland has relatively high rates of gun ownership for a European nation. Most veterans of Switzerland’s obligatory military service for men are allowed to keep their guns after their tours of duty are completed.

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