Surprise on the genetic engineering moratorium

What no one expected – genetically modified organisms in which no foreign DNA has been inserted are to be exempted from the moratorium on genetic engineering. This was decided by the Council of States during the winter session of parliament. On the other hand, the lower house's rejection of the proposal to double the EU cohesion billion was predictable.
After the National Council during the autumn session of Parliament, it was the turn of the Council of States to discuss the GMO moratorium. (©Swiss Parliament)

During the vote in the consultative committee in mid-November, the balance of votes was already very close: it was only thanks to the casting vote of the committee chairman that genetically modified organisms in which no alien DNA was introduced were excluded from the moratorium on genetic engineering. The starting position for the discussion in the Council of States was therefore extremely exciting. And here, too, a casting vote, this time by the President of the Council of States, tipped the scales in favour of the exemption. Now the issue goes back to the National Council for a revision of the differences. The National Council's preliminary committee will deal with it on 27/28 January 2022.

The extension of the moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in agriculture for another four years (until the end of 2025) was undisputed.

Standstill with Horizon Europe

In order to bring some movement into the negotiations with the EU on Horizon Europe, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council had proposed doubling the cohesion contribution. The condition for a possible increase is that the association agreements between Switzerland and the EU for Horizon Europe, Digital Europe, ITER, Euratom and Erasmus+ can be signed by 30 June 2022. However, the request did not find a majority in parliament. The National Council narrowly rejected the proposal by 93 votes to 84.

In the case of Erasmus+, Parliament also did not follow the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council, which had submitted its proposal in the summer. The Council of States did not want to oblige the Federal Council to submit a funding message for a Swiss association to Erasmus+ to parliament by the 2021 winter session. The matter is therefore closed. During the debate, however, the Federal Council reiterated its intention to submit a funding message "as soon as possible".