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Organic versus GMOs: A case study

Paull, John (2015) Organic versus GMOs: A case study. Keynote presentation at: Agriculture & Food 2015 3rd International Conference, Elenite, Bulgaria, 1-6 June.

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Online at: http://www.slideshare.net/johnpaull/paull2015marshv-baxter

Summary

Organic agriculture versus genetically modified organisms. Are these two agricultural technologies destined for co-existence or conflict? This is a case study from Australia about two neighbours in conflict - Michael Baxter who planted GM canola and Steve Marsh his organic neighbour. A timeline of the events before and after the contamination events of 2010 is presented. GM canola was approved for Australia in 2003 - but the WA government promptly put a moratorium in place. That changed when the WA government changed in 2010. Baxter immediately took advantage of the exemption to grow GM canola. What followed was ... the contamination ... the decertification ... the legal action. There are four elements to this case: nuisance, negligence. injunction & damages. Nuisance - that the events have been a nuisance to Marsh and caused the loss of use or enjoyment of the land. Negligence - that Baxter was negligent, that he did not take due care. Injunction - that the court order Baxter’s behaviour to be different in the future. Damages - that Baxter pay Marsh the losses incurred due to his decertification. When the judgement was delivered it was a resounding loss for the organic farmer. All four points were lost. The judge declared no nuisance, no negligence, no injunction, and no damages. Added to the loss on all four points was that the judge awarded costs of €570,000 (A$804,000) against the organic farmer. So the stakes are now very high. The big picture is of Monsanto versus the World. The close-up picture is that of an organic farmer who could lose his farm. And be bankrupted due to the award of costs. The Marshes appealed firstly the case and secondly the award of costs. This took the case to the Appeals Court of the Supreme Court of WA in March 2015. Meanwhile the legal costs are mounting. I estimate the legal costs to date at c.€1,425,000. So there is a great disproportionality between the original damages of €60K and the legal costs approaching €1.5M. The outcome of the two appeals are expected shortly. A twelve point snapshot: 1. Resolution: none; 2. Time: > 6 years; 3. Money: c. €1.5M; 4. Monsanto :-); 5. Organics :-(; 6. Certification: restored (Dec 2014); 7. GMOs on boundary: none; 8. Damages: none recovered; 9. Injunction: no prospect; 10. Appeals x2: await results; 11. Bankruptcy: possible; 12. Mutual co-existence: not demonstrated.


EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Keynote presentation
Keywords:Steve Marsh, Michael Baxter, Marsh v Baxter, WA, Western Australia, Supreme Court, GM canola, Roundup Ready canola, RR canola, legal proceedings, organic agriculture, organic farm, contamination, negligence, nuisance, damages, costs, injunction, court case, Kojonup, maps.
Subjects: Farming Systems > Social aspects
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Australia
Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Research affiliation: Australia > University of Tasmania
Related Links:http://orgprints.org/28525/7/28525.pdf, http://orgprints.org/26549/7/26549.pdf, http://orgprints.org/13485/1/13485.pdf, http://orgprints.org/19535/1/Paull%26Hennig2011EJSS.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:28901
Deposited On:03 Jun 2015 14:01
Last Modified:03 Jun 2015 14:02
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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