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Australia: Landmark case to stop GM canola

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Steve Marsh, a NASAA (National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia) organic certified farmer, lost his certification on 70% of his farm when his neighbour’s swathed GM canola blew onto his property. He lost a large part of his income and faced many management issues whilst trying to decontaminate his land. When Steve took this matter to the WA Agricultural minister at the time, Terry Redman, he was told that the organic standards are to blame for his loss and that if the organic standards allowed for GM contamination, this would never have happened, the Safe Food Foundation reports.

Steve decided to stand up to protect his rights. With a no liability agreement in place between Monsanto and GM farmers, Steve had no choice but to take his neighbour to court and he is suing him for compensation for loss and damages. The case was set to begin on 10 February 2014 at the WA Supreme Court. A campaign video with footage from Steve to tell his side of the story is available here.

This case is a landmark case and will set the precedent not just for GM canola, but also for future GM crops. The inability to prevent GM contamination in Australia may put at risk major export markets, such as Europe, and affect Australia’s status and reputation as a world leader in organics. This may not only affect contaminated farmers but also the industry as a whole if consumers cannot be assured that organic products grown in Australia are GM-free. There is a large and growing movement of people who are concerned with the quality of their food in Australia and GM is in the centre of the debate. Currently, the only way for consumers to know that their food is GM-free is to buy organic. Consumer backlash is likely should the right to choose GM-free be taken away.

A legal precedent may also be established shifting the economic burden of GM farming to non-GM farmers, requiring farmers who wish to farm organically to move to GM-free States or forego organic price premiums. As a consequence, organic farming may become prohibitively expensive in regions of Australia where GM crops are allowed. In such a case the economic viability of organic farming in Australia would be put at serious risk, according to the Safe Food Foundation.

The CSIRO is pushing to have GM wheat commercially cultivated as early as 2017. This would make Australia the first country in the world to do so – and Australia exports 70% of their wheat. More information is available here.





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