On 13 February, the country will be called to the polls to vote on a ban on animal testing. This is the fourth time the issue has been put to the vote.

The popular initiative being put to the vote calls for an end to all experiments on humans and animals, and a ban on the import of new products developed using such methods.

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A group of citizens from eastern Switzerland, including a naturopath, a doctor and an organic farmer, are the initiators of the initiative. It is supported by some 80 organisations and companies involved in animal welfare, environmental protection and alternative medicine.

According to official figures, some 556,000 animals were used for experimental purposes in Switzerland last year. This represents a decrease of 18% compared to 2015 when the downward trend began. However, the number of animals subjected to level 3 tests, which cause them severe pain, increased by 1 400 in 2021.

For the initiators of the initiative, these experiments must stop because animals are also sensitive to suffering and pain. They argue that animal experiments often lead to dead ends and that there are proven alternatives and better ways of gaining knowledge.

Parliament considers the initiative too extreme and fears that it will hamper medical and scientific research in Switzerland. The majority in the legislature is of the opinion that the current legislation, which only allows animal testing when no alternatives are available, is sufficient.

The Swiss have already rejected three initiatives calling for a ban on animal testing, in 1985, 1992 and 1993.

The executive and parliament are advising the public to reject the initiative at the ballot box.