Switzerland to vote on becoming first nation to ban animal testing

Supporters of a ban on animal testing, which government data shows caused more than 500,000 animals to die in Swiss laboratories in 2020, say the practice is ethically wrong and unnecessary.

 A Swiss flag is pictured at the harbour in Geneva, Switzerland, September 24, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)
A Swiss flag is pictured at the harbour in Geneva, Switzerland, September 24, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE)

Voters in Switzerland will decide on Sunday whether to become the first country to ban animal testing in a referendum that will also consider tightening controls on cigarette advertising.

Campaigners who want to end all experiments on mice, rats and other animals gathered enough signatures to stage the vote under the Swiss system of direct democracy, meeting strong opposition from the country's huge pharmaceutical sector.

The industry, which includes heavyweights Roche and Novartis, says such research is needed to develop new drugs.

Supporters of a ban on animal testing, which government data shows caused more than 500,000 animals to die in Swiss laboratories in 2020, say the practice is ethically wrong and unnecessary.

The most recent opinion poll showed 68% of respondents opposed the proposed ban, suggesting it is unlikely to be approved.

Mice [Illustrative] (credit: INGIMAGE)Mice [Illustrative] (credit: INGIMAGE)

The proposal to further restrict tobacco advertising looks likely to pass, with 63% of people polled in favor.

Voters' answers will be binding on the government, which will then decide on how to implement the proposals.