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posted by mrpg on Monday June 07, @04:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the poisonous-pesticides-plague-the-pasture dept.

Swiss mired in poisonous row over pesticides:

[...] The Swiss will vote on Jun 13 on a proposal which, if it passes, would make Switzerland the first country in the world to ban synthetic pesticides.

Proponents seek to ban pesticides with non-naturally occurring chemicals - and not only for agriculture but also for public green spaces, private gardens, and even for killing the weeds on railway tracks.

The initiative, entitled "For a Switzerland free from synthetic pesticides", would also ban the import of foodstuffs produced with synthetic pesticides, so as not to put Swiss farmers at a disadvantage.


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  • (Score: 5, Informative) by bradley13 on Monday June 07, @05:59AM (6 children)

    by bradley13 (3053) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 07, @05:59AM (#1142650) Homepage Journal

    Swiss here. The core of the initiative is indeed about pesticides and herbicides, but it doesn't forbid them. It just says "if you use synthetic chemicals, you don't qualify for subsidies." Switzerland is densely populated, and has an increasing problem of field runoff getting into drinking water supplies. Add to that an insane level of agricultural subsidies, and I could support this idea.

    But: The people putting the initiative together just couldn't stop themselves. They had to add more and more stuff into the same bag. It goes so far as to require farmers to keep only as many livestock as they can feed off of their own land. I.e., you're not allowed to buy in fodder, not even from your neighbor. Add in the import restrictions, which would be essentially impossible to enforce, and would lead to a huge increase in food prices...well...

    If the initiative hadn't gotten carried away, it would probably have passed. A combination of environmentalism (although "natural" pesticides can be even nastier than synthetic ones) and people like me who object to object to the massive subsidies going to farmers. However, since they included more and amore crazy stuff, the initiative has almost no chance of passing.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @07:39AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @07:39AM (#1142674)

    But: The people putting the initiative together just couldn't stop themselves.

    It almost sounds like the chemical industry has helped them to be more 'ambitious'? I don't know, maybe that's just a cynic in me.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:39AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:39AM (#1142693)

      In my opinion (Swiss citizen) this is a common problem with popular initiatives, and one of the few "problems" of the Swiss system.

      A votation will be organised for every proposition that collects 100,000 valid signatures in 18 months. It takes effort to formulate the proposition and collect signatures, so this is usually done by political organizations with strong opinions about the matter at hand. In their internal discussions the "more ambitious" version is often more popular than a toned-down version. As a result propositions are often on the more "extreme" side; if the topic is popular they often still collect enough signatures but then have a hard time in the votation because a majority would prefer a more "balanced" approach.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:08PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 07, @09:08PM (#1142903)

        In this part of the US, we have a similar issue with our initiatives and referenda. It was introduced decades ago as an end run around politicians that were either corrupt or too timid in what they'd do. Voters can get things that the politicians pass referred to the voters via a referendum, or they can circumvent the politicians completely, using an initiative to send it to the people for a legally binding vote.

        Unfortunately, in the case of initiatives, the version that the voters get is whatever the interest groups that were circulating the petitions want and it's just an up or down vote. So, if there are significant issues with it they can't be fixed, you just get a yes or no on it. Also, you can have something being voted on repeatedly until the measure is moot. We had to vote on a monorail measure repeatedly until one of the votes prevented it from being done due purely to a technicality. Our tunnel took something like 3 separate votes before being constructed as the losing parties kept trying to stop it.

        I've personally stopped signing virtually any of those petitions unless there's an extremely good reason as to why it can't be sent through the normal legislative process, just because of how much damage it's done to the state. Every few years, we get a new initiative to slash the price of car tabs, which causes all sorts of issues financing public infrastructure and pretty much prevents the state from taxing expensive vehicles at a higher rate than cheaper ones or instituting tax policies that encourage fuel efficiency.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @04:29PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, @04:29PM (#1143187)

          I assume by your references to monorail and tunnel that you're talking about Washington, and in particular Seattle.

          The car tab issue in particular is an amazing version of screwup. People were pissed off because they found themselves being charged, even if they lived far away from the blessed region of infrastructure construction (i.e. Seattle), based on the MSRP at time of new sale of their vehicle, even if it is a twenty year old third-hand beater they picked up for $500 and fixed up for $300. Not only did it end up screwing the poor, it often ended up specifically screwing people who weren't substantially benefiting from the infrastructure in question anyway, and the state government was complicit in letting this pass because of all the votes from Seattle and its immediate environs anyway.

          It's a classic case of misbehaviour and exploitation in government - and this sort of thing keeps happening, which means that now people are mistrustful every time a new set of expensive mandates emerge from the crocodile tear factory called government. If the government hadn't shit in its own pool, people might have been a little bit more open to paying for important things, but now the default assumption is that the government is more interested in collecting taxes and finding pretexts than actually achieving anything which people value.

          Closer to home, this is another reason why people in NYC are starting to get just a wee bit cranky about the tax rates, given the lousy law enforcement, increasing violence, and strictures on businesses putting them out of business. To the point of, oh, say, leaving the fucking state and taking their taxes with them. But good riddance to the exploitocapitalists, amiritebro?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by driverless on Monday June 07, @10:28AM

    by driverless (4770) on Monday June 07, @10:28AM (#1142696)

    Thanks for the explanation! As summarised it sounds pretty crazy since it'd ban relatively benign synthetics while OK'ing compounds like Paris Green, whose molecular structure is something like copper, arsenic, oxygen, arsenic, arsenic, oxygen, more arsenic, carbon, arsenic, arsenic, and some more arsenic.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by js290 on Monday June 07, @04:33PM

    by js290 (14148) on Monday June 07, @04:33PM (#1142792)

    Mark Shepard on Restoration Agriculture - Fertilizer & pesticide runoff [bit.ly]... wild pollinator no sprays orchard mason bee [bit.ly]