Australian GMO “contamination” case in final stages

Stephen Marsh via Farm Weekly
Stephen Marsh via Farm Weekly

The Australian court case over genetically modified canola crops blown into an organic oat and wheat field is reaching it’s final days. In this case Steve Marsh is suing his neighbor Michael Baxter after harvested seed heads from Baxter’s genetically modified canola crop blew onto Marsh’s farm.

The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia’s (NASAA) organic standards were scrutinized by Patricia Cahill, legal counsel for the Baxter, according to Farm Weekly:

Ms Cahill summarized to presiding judge, Kenneth Martin, that the improper construction and ineffective application of NASAA’s questionable standards (and not her client’s actions) should be blamed for the situation plaintiff’s Steve and Sue Marsh found themselves in.

According to her, a reckless, indifferent or cavalier grower (as her client Mr Baxter was referred to by the plaintiff’s counsel) wouldn’t have allowed for the proper buffer zones or told plaintiffs Steven and Sue Marsh of his planting intentions – all of which Mr Baxter did in accordance with his Roundup Ready seed contract.

In her summary Ms Cahill explained the complication between the parties arose when NASAA’s certification regime was laid over the top of Mr Baxter and Mr and Mrs Marsh’s coexistence, especially given the seemingly “moving goal posts” nature of the standards.

She also pointed to NASAA witnesses who struggled to point to a national standard warranting de-certification and gave evidence suggesting that each contamination case was handled and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Ms Cahill told the judge Mr Baxter grew a crop he was legally entitled to grow and referred to her examination of the national and NASAA organic standards which showed no explicit reference to zero tolerance if read closely and carefully.

Are GMO farmers responsible for a neighbor’s organic crops? Will GMO farmers be limited in where they can grow crops in the future? This case has wide-ranging implications.

Marsh is seeking $85,000 in lost earnings. But the economic impacts of the verdict for the rest of the world are far greater.

Additional Resources: 

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend