new issue on salenow!
Organic farmer loses landmark GM case

Organic farmer loses landmark GM case

Story by

WA Supreme Court’s decision is a big blow for the organic movement, SIMON WEBSTER reports. 

Organic farmer Steve Marsh has lost his landmark case against a neighbour whose genetically modified (GM) canola contaminated Marsh’s farm.

Marsh lost organic certification on about 70 per cent of his 477-hectare grain and livestock farm in Kojonup, WA, after swathes of GM canola from neighbour Michael Baxter’s farm blew across their boundary in 2010.

Marsh sued Baxter in the WA Supreme Court for damages and sought a permanent injunction against Baxter growing GM crops near his boundary. The three-week case, which attracted interest around the world, ended in February, and Justice Kenneth Martin handed down his judgement this week, in favour of Baxter.

“Mr Baxter was not to be held responsible as a broadacre farmer merely for growing a lawful GM crop and choosing to adopt a harvest methodology (swathing) which was entirely orthodox in its implementation,” Justice Martin said.

Scott Kinnear, director of the Safe Food Foundation, which supported Marsh, said the law had failed.

“This is a huge setback for organic and non-GM farmers and their choice to remain GM-free,” Kinnear said.

Baxter said the decision was good news for WA farmers wanting to grow GM crops. “It’s perfectly safe, it’s legalised and I think it’s a great thing of the future,” he said.