Old friends open up about rift caused by GM vs. organic court battle

It started in the West Australian wheat belt with tense words between neighbours at a community working bee.

It ended up in a “genetically modified (GM) versus organic” court battle that made headlines around the world.

And in late March, there will be a further chapter in the WA Supreme Court.

Speaking out for the first time in interviews for tonight’s Australian Story, family members from the opposing sides have described the intense emotional impact of the legal battle.

Stray seed pods sprout heated battle

In late 2010, seed pods from Michael Baxter’s genetically modified canola blew onto Marsh’s property Eaglerest.

Marsh threatened to take legal action after his certifying agency decertified three quarters of his property.

The two farmers had been schoolyard friends and their families had helped each other in neighbourly ways. But battlelines developed well beyond Kojonup.

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Marsh was adopted as the hero of lobby groups that believe the new technology threatens the public’s right to healthy, safe food.

In turn, Baxter was heralded by pro-GM advocates who saw him as a progressive farmer, unfairly demonised.

The families of both Marsh and Baxter have described the continuing toll the legal battle has taken on all those involved.

“He possibly could have done things a lot easier and come over the fence and had a chat and have a beer and maybe sorted it out a little bit different.” Mr Baxter told Australian Story.

Marsh’s mother did not mince words: “I’ve looked on Michael as another son of mine and I find this very, very difficult.”

Read full, original article: Kojonup farmers caught in epic legal battle over genetically modified canola contamination

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