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A Western Australian Court of Appeal ruling on genetically modified (GM) crop liability has been welcomed by Federated Farmers as a landmark decision.
In 2014, organic farmer Steve Marsh sued his neighbour, GM farmer Michael Baxter, for damages after sheaves of GM canola blew onto his property, resulting in his partial decertification as an organic farmer. Mr Marsh also sought a permanent injunction preventing his neighbour from growing GM crops.
At the time the case went to court, anti-GM groups, confident of a win, hailed it as potentially precedent setting.
But in September 2015 the Western Australian Court of Appeal ruled that the organic farmer was “entitled to enter into arrangements which had the effect that their land was being put to an abnormally sensitive use, but their neighbours [Baxter] did not then fall under an obligation to limit their farming activities…”
The court went on to say that “the appellants could not… ‘unilaterally enlarge their own rights’ and impose limitations on the operations of their neighbours to an extent greater than would otherwise be the case.”
Federated Farmers’ President and Science spokesman Dr William Rolleston welcomed these findings.
“This is not about organic farming versus GM farming…all farmers…have a duty of care to make co-existence work and that this fundamentally relies on being good neighbours.”
“…if farmers enter into a particularly sensitive commercial arrangement such as organic farming they are responsible for maintaining the extra sensitive nature of their operation rather than imposing that responsibility on their neighbours.”
Dr Rolleston said Federated Farmers is writing to Organics New Zealand to open a dialogue to ensure that the lessons from this Australian case are considered in the setting of standards for the organics industry.
Read full, original post: Federated Farmers Welcome Court Ruling on Genetic Modified Crop