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Organic versus GMO farming: Contamination, what contamination?

Paull, John (2014) Organic versus GMO farming: Contamination, what contamination? Journal of Organic Systems, 9 (1), pp. 2-4.

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PDF - Published Version - English
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.


Document available online at: http://www.organic-systems.org/journal/91/9101.pdf


A landmark case against the planting of GMO crops in Australia has delivered a big win for GMO farmers and produced no protection for organic farmers. The case pitted farmer against farmer. An organic farmer, Steve Walsh, initiated the legal action against his GMO growing neighbour, Michael Baxter in the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
The Marsh and Baxter farms (477 hectares and 900 ha. respectively) are adjacent to each other and located in Kojonup, 260 km south east of the capital city of Perth in the wheat belt of Western Australia (WA) - and coincidentally nearby Broomhill was one of the earliest sites in the development of the organic movement in Australia (from 1930). Just before Baxter's first crop of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready (RR) canola (a variety of rape) was harvested, the standing crop was sprayed with herbicide (glyphosate), and rather than being direct harvested, the crop was swathed, i.e. the stalks were mown off at their base, dropped in situ and windrowed, and left in the field (exposed to the elements) for collection in two or three weeks. GMO swathes, seeds and plant material were subsequently found dispersed over much of Marsh's farm. As a consequence 70% of Marsh's farm lost its organic certification (from 29 December 2010 until it was restored in October 2013).
Marsh sued Baxter for economic loss (agreed between the parties as $85,000), on the basis of common law negligence or private nuisance, and sought a permanent injunction, initially to stop Baxter in future planting GM canola in paddocks adjacent to Marsh's organic fields and finally lessened to stopping Baxter harvesting GM canola by swathing in adjacent paddocks. The case ran over three weeks, and was then dismissed in its entirety; so no nuisance, no negligence, no injunction, and no damages.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:genetically modified organisms, GM canola, genetically engineered crops, law, legal action, negligence, nuisance, injunction, Supreme Court of Western Australia
Subjects: Farming Systems
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Values, standards and certification
Environmental aspects
Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Research affiliation:Australia > University of Tasmania
Related Links:https://orgprints.org/26110/7/26110.pdf, https://orgprints.org/22934/7/22934.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:26549
Deposited On:01 Jul 2014 13:03
Last Modified:01 Jul 2014 13:03
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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