From cuckoo clocks come cuckoo criticisms. Here’s only the latest example of the Precautionary Principle run amok. Over the weekend, Swiss voters decided to tighten restrictions on genetically modified farm products, a divisive topic in a country that already prohibits most of such technology from being used in agriculture. More than 55 percent of participants in the national referendum voted for the initiative to place a five-year moratorium on all genetically modified animals and crops, except for use in certain research and to produce medicine. Sunday’s referendum was forced by environmentalists and consumer groups, which easily gathered 100,000 signatures to oppose a 2004 law that would have permitted cultivation of genetically modified crops once they passed a “multiyear testing procedure,” whatever that means. The groups said the government’s law did not go far enough. They claimed it threatened Swiss farmers while benefiting multinational agricultural businesses and would have forced products onto the market that people are not interested in buying. The campaigners also needed to gain a majority in more than half of the country’s 26 cantons. Voters in all 26 cantons approved the ban.
Heidi Ho — or as they say in Switzerland, “Oy Gevalt!”