More drones, robots and robust plants are to help cut back on chemicals in Swiss agriculture.
The government says it has decided on an action plan to reduce by 50% the risks of long-term soil and water pollution by adopting a more sustainable policy to protect crops over the next ten years.
The measures include the use of more efficient and low-emission techniques and machines as well as further training and practical advice for farmers on dealing with weeds, pests and plant diseases.
However, it is not possible to dispense with pesticides altogether according to the Federal Agriculture Office.
“The Swiss agriculture sector would produce considerably lower amounts of food if no chemicals were used for crop protection,” the statement said.
The office also urged consumers to buy fruit and wines which are more resistant.
The government measures have come in for criticism.
Environmental groups argue that the plan is insufficient and fell short of banning synthetic pesticides.
The leading Farmer’s Association said the measures focus only on the agriculture sector and spare other sectors, including railway companies, the construction industry and owners of family gardens.
The lobby group for the country’s chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industry said the action plan did not show sufficiently the benefits of pesticides and it failed to clarify the methods of measuring progress.
Citizens groups are also collecting signatures for two separate people's initiatives aimed at banning synthetic pesticides and cutting government subsidies to farmers who rely on agrochemical products.
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