A Western Australian organic farmer who alleges that his farm was contaminated by genetically modified canola will have his case heard at the state Supreme Court next week in what lawyers are calling a ‘landmark case’.
Steve Marsh is suing neighbouring farmer, Michael Baxter, for damages and loss of income after his property was contaminated with Roundup Ready GM canola that blew over from Baxter’s property, resulting in the loss of his National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia organic certification on 70 percent of his farm.
Marsh’s lawyer, Mark Walter from Slater and Gordon said that Marsh’s situation represented a landmark case about a farmer’s right to grow what they choose on their land, The Weekly Times Now reports.
Matthew Cossey, chief executive of CropLife Australia, the Australian subsidiary of agricultural biotechnology company, CropLife International, said that broader issues were connected to this case in regards to Australia’s organic standards which he says are far stricter than the rest of the world.
The case, which was first lodged in the state Supreme Court in 2011, will commence on February 10 and is expected to be heard for 10 days.
In the five years since the lifting of Australia’s GM crop moratorium, recent figures have suggested that the overall acceptance of GM canola has been relatively lacklustre with GM canola representing only nine percent of the most recent crop.
The case also comes just three months after South Australia extended a moratorium on GM crops until at least 2019, making it the only Australian mainland state to ban GM crop production and trials.