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WA’s court verdict on GM crops is a dose of common sense

Jones, M. (2014) WA’s court verdict on GM crops is a dose of common sense. The Conversation, 29 May 2014 .


In a landmark West Australian Supreme Court decision, a farmer growing a genetically modified canola crop has been spared the blame after his neighbour accused him of contaminating his organic farm next door.

The case has prompted strong reactions, but my view is that the verdict is a victory for common sense. It is regrettable that the case occurred in the first place, and has caused personal anguish to both farmers, their families and their community.

The case involved two farmers, Steve Marsh and Michael Baxter, who owned neighbouring farms near Kojonup, about 250 km southeast of Perth. Marsh’s farm was certified organic by the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA).

The court ruled that Michael Baxter could not be blamed for his canola harvesting methods. Angie Raphael/AAP
Marsh alleged that after Baxter swathed his crop (a common practice in harvesting canola, in which the crop is cut and then laid in rows to dry), some of the GM canola was blown onto Marsh’s farm. As a result, Marsh lost his organic certification from the NASAA for part of his property. Marsh claimed that Baxter was negligent in planting and harvesting his GM canola and sought damages for loss of organic status, and to prevent Baxter from planting GM canola near his boundaries again.

Publication Type: Non-refereed Article
Publisher: The Conversation Media Group
Copyright: The Author
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