Animal rights groups and environmental organizations have joined forces to launch a campaign to end factory farming in Switzerland.
Anti-speciesist think thank Sentience Politics is one of the groups behind the 'No factory farming in Switzerland' initiative, which calls for a constitutional amendment in order to improve the lives of farmed animals. Together with more than 15 other organizations, it plans to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition, then instigate a vote proposing to change the law.
Switzerland operates on a political system known as 'semi-direct democracy'. This means citizens vote directly on individual policies. If a petition gains more than 100,000 signatures within 18 months, it can be put to the vote under the Swiss popular initiative system.
According to Sentience Politics, 50 million land animals are bred and slaughtered every year in Switzerland. It adds: "Their basic needs are disregarded. The industry intentionally spreads the illusion that there is no intensive farming in Switzerland - although most Swiss 'farm animals' do not see grass or sunlight in their lives."
By amending article 80a of the Federal Constitution, the altered law would see 'the protection of the dignity of the animal in agricultural livestock' - which includes the right not to live within intensive farming practices. It also suggests regulations are put in place regarding 'the importation of animals and animal products for nutritional purposes'.
The maximum transition period for implementing the amendments would be 25 years.
A Swiss vegan source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Plant Based News: "The ideal situation would be that we ban both factory farming in Switzerland AND imported stuff from factory farms outside the country.
"This still would not make everything vegan, but I think it would be a massive change.
"In that case, maybe meat would get much more expensive, and people would consume less. This would happen in tandem with the predicted growth of the plant-based alternatives market.
"And even if none of the laws are implemented, I think there will be a lot of media going on around the proposals, it could become an important topic of wide debate. There is still a long way to go - but I think this is a positive story."
The Swiss Government is currently trying to overhaul its animal welfare laws: in January this year it banned the boiling of live, unstunned lobsters under legislation that came into effect on March 1.
The Government also wants to crack down on illegal puppy farms and on anti-barking dog collars.
It also plans to outline clearer conditions for euthanising sick or injured animals.