Swiss citizens have gathered enough signatures to force the country’s parliament to investigate the mass disappearance of insects.
The non-binding petition was launched by an action group consisting of different NGOs such as the Swiss Federation of Nature Friends, the Swiss Farmers’ Association, Dark-Sky Switzerland and Apisuisse, the national association of beekeepers.
The petition and the total of 165,512 signatures of people who support the call for an investigation were handed over to the national parliament in Bern.
It calls for “quick and consistent action” against insect starvation, which the petitioners say threatens not only many animal and plant species but also food production and thus the livelihood of Swiss citizens.
According to the petitions, scientific research in Germany showed that “probably more than half of all insects have disappeared in the last thirty years”, as they fear that similar trends are happening in Switzerland as well.
The petitioners cited a Franco-German study which found that the value of insect pollination is estimated in financial terms at about 172 billion CHF (137 billion GBP) worldwide and that insects also play an indispensable role when it comes to soil fertility.
President of the Swiss Farmers’ Association Markus Ritter said: “Insects are also very important for agriculture, especially bees. That is why it is important that we do the appropriate research now.”
The petitioners said the fact that 165,512 signatures were collected within 100 days while their initial goals was 50,000 indicates that there is a huge interest from the population in a serious solution to the problem
By gathering enough signatures, the Swiss Federal Council and Parliament are now requested by the petitioners to scientifically investigate the causes and consequences of insect starvation.
In addition, the authorities are also requested to initiate measures against insect starvation, promote diverse habitats, reduce light pollution and to launch an awareness campaign about the value of insects for the ecosystem and the people.
According to the official Swiss Government website, a petition “does not have any legal value per se”.
It reads: “The authority to which the petition is addressed must acknowledge receipt of the petition, but is not required to respond. However, the authorities generally do consider petitions and respond.”
Switzerland is known for its lively democracy in which all citizens can start a petition or call for a binding local, cantonal or national referendum if enough signatures are gathered.