Sunday, June 7, 1998 Published at 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
Swiss reject genetic ban
Some groups are concerned about genetically altered foods
In the first national referendum anywhere on the issue, around two-thirds of voters threw out the proposal.
Not one of Switzerland's 26 cantons voted in favor of the tough restrictions which it would have imposed. Turnout was low, at just over 40%.
The BBC correspondent in Switzerland said that although the Swiss are environmentally-conscious, the issues of jobs and investment proved to be a bigger vote-winner.
Left-wing parties joined environmentalists and animal rights activists in pressing for a ban, accusing genetic researchers of tampering with nature without clear medical benefits.
In the run-up to the vote, the Swiss Government and leading drugs companies said the plan would force a draconian shutdown on research in Switzerland, sending highly paid jobs to other countries.
The issue of jobs is also highly sensitive in Switzerland. Despite its small size, it is a leading force in biotechnology.
The Swiss pharmaceutical industry greeted the vote with relief. "The way is now open for Switzerland's industry and universities to carry on into the future with their biomedical and pharmaceutical research," said a Roche statement.
A professor from the Geneva Medical School said the result signalled the decline of what he called fundamentalist environmental ideology.
Switzerland is the first nation in the world to put the issue of genetic research to a ballot.
Voters were asked to decide whether more stringent restrictions should be placed on scientists.
If it had been approved, the new law would have banned all research with genetically modified animals and crops.