On Monday, a referendum in Switzerland aiming to ban the use of all synthetic pesticides was launched. The popular vote, which collected the required 100,000 signatures in 2016, is scheduled for 2020, according to RTS.
The pesticides that would be banned include glyphosate and neonicotinoids, a group of chemicals known to kill bees.
Vote organisers say the negative effects of pesticides go beyond the environment, affecting human health as well.
Glyphosate, is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation. In addition to IARC’s cancer research, a separate study done in 2013 shows a close correlation between rising glyphosate use, since its introduction in 1974, and a rise in the number with celiac disease, a serious reaction to gluten. This chart shows the correlation with celiac disease. The paper looks at other disease associations too. This chart shows a correlation with thyroid cancer. In addition to the correlated trend over time, celiac disease rates were found to be higher in parts of the world using more glyphosate.
If successful, the initiative would give farmers ten years to transition to farming without these chemicals. One Swiss grape grower made the transition over six years according to the newspaper Tribune de Genève.
In addition, initiative organisers think their plan could have a positive economic impact. The brand value associated with being pesticide free could boost the value of Swiss produce and create opportunities in tourism.