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Judge to rule on world-first GM contamination case

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Media Release

Published on

The Supreme Court trial of a Western Australian organic farmer who is taking legal action against his neighbour has come to an end in Perth today.

After three weeks of evidence, expert witnesses and submissions, the Hon Justice Kenneth Martin has reserved his decision.

In 2010, 70 per cent of Steve Marsh’s organic farm lost its organic certification when his neighbour’s genetically modified canola swathes and seed allegedly blew across his property near WA’s Great Southern town of Kojonup.

Mr Marsh is suing his neighbour, Michael Baxter, for negligence and nuisance, seeking damages and a permanent injunction to protect his farm from contamination in the future.

Slater and Gordon Commercial and Project Litigation lawyer Mark Walter said the trial was believed to be a world-first case and would shine a spotlight on the legal rights of non GM farmers.

“This case is primarily about individual property rights and the freedom of choice for a farmer to grow what he wants on his own land,” he said.

“But the outcome could also influence the future of farming practices, the costs associated with unwanted contaminants, and whether consumers will continue to enjoy access to GM-free food grown in Australia.

“Mr Marsh is pleased the Supreme Court trial has wrapped-up and knows it’s now in the hands of the judge.”

Slater and Gordon provided legal services to Mr Marsh, under its Public Interest and Pro Bono Scheme.

All third party costs – such as court fees, expert and barrister costs – will be met by the Safe Food Foundation through donations.