Organic farmer sues GM farmer for ‘contaminating crop’ in landmark case

Organic farmer sues GM farmer for ‘contaminating crop’ in landmark case

An organic farmer in Australia is suing his neighbour – who grows genetically modified crops – for “contaminating” his property in a landmark case that could affect farmers around the world.

Steve Marsh, who owns an organic oat and sheep farm, is suing his neighbour and former childhood friend, Michael Baxter, whose genetically modified canola allegedly blew about a mile over the fence into Mr Marsh’s farm and affected 70 per cent of his crops.

Mr Marsh’s farm was certified organic in 2010 by the national sustainable farming association, which has zero tolerance for genetically modified material and later withdrew the certification.

Commencing a three-week trial in the Western Australia Supreme Court, Mr Marsh argued that his neighbour should have taken greater care to prevent the canola seeds escaping.

“[Mr Baxter] failed to contain the genetically modified seeds, and they escaped on the wind onto the Marsh property — thousands of seeds were deposited on Eagle Rest,” Mr Marsh’s barrister, Richard Niall, told the court.