Authorisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Food produced from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is subject to authorisation and labelling requirements. Several GMO products are currently authorised for use in food.

Products that are, contain or are derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are subject to a number of regulations in Switzerland. They require an authorisation before being placed on the market. The acceptance and transfer of GMO products for commercial purposes must be documented. Products intended for consumers must be labelled.

When handling GMOs, measures must be taken to avoid unintentional mixing with conventional products. However, traces of unauthorised GMOs may be tolerated under certain conditions. These are regulated by law (see «More information»).

International transport is subject to special regulations. In contrast, the use of genetically modified animals is permitted in Switzerland only for medical purposes and in research.

Authorisation procedure

GMO products in the food sector are assessed by the FSVO in an authorisation procedure involving several federal agencies. The FSVO grants an authorisation only if any risk to health and the environment can be excluded according to the state of the art. After an authorisation has been granted, the manufacturers must regularly demonstrate to the FSVO that the characteristics of the authorised food have not changed. The maximum duration of an authorisation is ten years. The product will be monitored. An authorisation may be revoked if there are grounds for suspecting a risk to health or the environment.

However, GMO products that are produced in a closed system by a genetically modified micro-organism and then purified, separated and chemically defined (so called fermenter products) are subject to a simplified authorisation procedure according to the requirements for the novel foods authorization  (see «Authorisation of novel foods»). After examination of the application documents, these products are listed in Annex 3 of the VGVL (link - French).

Authorisations for GMO products

One soya line, three maize lines, two vitamins, two rennet enzymes, two types of sugar as an ingredient and multiple food enzymes as processing aids are currently authorised in Switzerland for use in foods (see under «More information»).


Information on the labelling of GMO products can be found on the FSVO webpage Labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).


Article 32 of the Foodstuffs Ordinance (FSO) and Article 6 of the Ordinance on genetically modified foodstuffs (VGVL) regulate the conditions under which unintentional traces of unauthorised GMOs may be tolerated. Only GMO plants authorised by the FSVO and listed in Annex 2 of the VGVL are tolerated. The rules apply to unintentional traces up to a proportion of 0.5% by mass. The traders or producers concerned must be able to demonstrate that they have taken appropriate measures to avoid such traces. If these conditions are not met, the products may not be placed on the market.

For inclusion in Annex 2 VGVL, products are assessed by the FSVO with regard to health protection and by the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) with regard to exclusion of any environmental hazards. The FSVO will refrain from assessing the risks to health if the components of foodstuffs that are, contain or are derived from genetically modified plants have been assessed as suitable for use in foodstuffs by a foreign authority in a procedure comparable to that under the LGV and VGVL. However, an assessment of the FOEN regarding risks of environmental hazards is still necessary. The FSVO may adopt a tolerance subject to restrictions and conditions (see under «More information»).

Goods flow separation

GMOs must not be mixed with conventional organisms. To ensure this, every establishment handling GMOs must develop and implement a quality assurance system. This system must be based on the established Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concept for ensuring hygiene in food processing. Studies have shown that Switzerland can secure the necessary imports of maize and soya from conventional sources without any mixing with GMOs above the threshold (tolerance) (see «More information»).

More information


Last modification 17.01.2022

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