Organic farmer lodges court case against GM contamination

April 3, 2012
Organic farmer Steve Marsh. Photo:

The Safe Food Foundation (SFF) released the statement below on April 3.

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Slater & Gordon Solicitors today lodged a claim in the WA Supreme Court on behalf of an organic farmer seeking to recover loss and damage allegedly caused by a genetically modified canola farmer neighbour. Steve Marsh, an organic farmer from Kojonup, Western Australia, suffered contamination by genetically modified (GM) material on his farm in late 2010 leading to the loss of his organic certification and loss of income.

Slater & Gordon Solicitors are acting pro bono in the public interest. The Safe Food Foundation directed by Scott Kinnear, longstanding organic industry representative, is supporting Steve by raising funds to support the case. The SFF will coordinate the fund raising efforts of dozens of groups and thousands of individuals across Australia and internationally who have pledged to help Steve in this landmark legal battle.

Kinnear said: “Steve has been deluged with offers of help since news of his story broke. The Safe Food Foundation has taken on the coordination of fundraising as a major project in support of Steve and the right of farmers everywhere to grow GM-free foods; which ultimately equals consumers’ right to buy and eat GM-free foods and to avoid potentially dangerous toxic GM foods.

“There are legitimate concerns, derived from a body of developing research, that GM foods and the herbicide Roundup may be toxic.”

“Roundup Ready GM crops such as GM canola, are resistant to the application of Roundup which is used on the crops to control weeds, causing Roundup residues to enter our food chain.

“We believe that Steve Marsh’s case is the tip of the iceberg and that unless stopped, Australia will follow Canada and North Americas dangerous lead, where there is virtually no GM-free canola available and GM residues are commonly contaminating non GM grain crops.”

“We suggest farmers considering GM canola for this year, should reconsider their plans until this case has resolved the issue of contamination and common law responsibilities. If this case fails, then there will be no turning back the GM tide as contamination sweeps through our food supply. We simply cannot stand by and let this happen.”


Australian governments refused to protect farmers against the economic loss and harm from Genetically Manipulated (GM) canola contamination. But their decision to leave GM contamination cases to the common law and the courts sets farmer against farmer. Meanwhile, Monsanto that always continues to own the GM seed under its contracts of sale gets off scot free and accepts no liability when GM contamination inevitably occurs. Therefore, states urgently need to pass Farmer Protection laws. Under these laws a levy on all GM seed sales would be paid into a fund from which any farmer or other land manager suffering GM contamination or harm could automatically claim compensation. That would be fair and just. Bob Phelps Executive Director Gene Ethics Level 2, 60 Leicester St, Carlton 3053 Australia Tel: 1300 133 868 or 03 9347 4500 {Int Code +613} Mob: 0449 769 066 Fax: 03 9341 8199 Email: WWW: THINK, CARE, ACT!

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