The Right to grow Organic CropsSteve is an organic farmer from a farming community South of Perth in Kojonup, Western Australia and in 2010, the state government of Western Australia lifted the ban on GM canola, allowing for the commercial cultivation of this GM crop for the first time.
As a result many farmers, including Marsh’s next door neighbour, began growing GM canola. Subsequently, Steve found GM canola plants spread over much of his farm, containing seed.
70% of Steve’s farm was contaminated and he lost his organic certification.
The Safe Food Foundation is coordinating to fund raise for Steve Marsh’s court case, which started on February 10, 2014 at the Western Australian Supreme Court.
He needs to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for a fair trail.
Please consider making a donation to help Steve Marsh stop Monsanto's GM canola.
This is a landmark case, the first time a non-GM farmer is taking a GM farmer to court to sue him for compensation for his loss and damages due to GM contamination.
On May 24th 2014 the Supreme court handed down it's verdict, Steve lost.
Marsh vs Baxter Supreme Court Decision summery.
Marsh vs Baxter Supreme Court Decision.
Baxter’s pro GMO team has argued that it is impossible to demand 100% GM-free and tolerance has to be accepted. This is confirmed in this short clip (comments at 1:35 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152224511114470 ) where Bill Crabtree (pro-GM enthusiast, GM patent holder, WA Liberal party GM policy author as well as GM farmer) tells us that ‘Nature won’t allow’ GM-free.
Marsh’s pro Organic team stood by the strict organic standards that led to the decertification, explaining that this is what consumers and markets demand, and how the holistic methods employed by organic farmers also demanded clean, GM-free land.
There is a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HelpThisFarmer to show support for Organic Farming.
Latest Update from the Safe Food Foundation,
The future of organic and non GM food in Australia is uncertain after a WA farmer today lost his legal battle with a neighbouring farmer.
Steve Marsh lost organic certification on his Kojonup farm - and most of his livelihood - when his farm was contaminated by GM canola. He sued his neighbour in the WA Supreme Court for his losses, and to protect his farm into the future.
The court in its summary and judgment stated the decision by NASAA (National Association of Sustainable Agriculture Australia) to decertify Steve was erroneous. Given the extent of the contamination of Steve's farm we fail to see how NASAA could have taken any other decision. Certainly 100% of organic consumers would support the NASAA decision.
Because the court did not recognise the NASAA decertification the court did not recognise the economic loss Steve suffered, and dismissed the case that Steve had brought for negligence and nuisance.
Scott Kinnear, director of the Safe Food Foundation, says he is very disappointed and gravely concerned for Steve Marsh and his family and their farm and for the future of organic and non GM food in Australia remaining GM free.
"This is a huge setback for organic and Non GM farmers and their choice to remain GM Free."
"This has been an important test case, of interest to many parties, locally and globally.
"If Steve on legal advice chooses to take this case further, the Safe Food Foundation will continue to work to legally protect the rights of Australian consumers to buy organic produce free of GM."
"We also call on our legislators to work on finding a solution to this vexed issue. State and Federal governments have continuously stated that the solution to any GM contamination events is common law. This has clearly failed today and demonstrates that the law has not kept up with new technologies such as GM."
"We thank Steve Marsh who has risked his farm to make a stand for all of us, a move that demonstrated his courage, tenacity and integrity."
Mr Kinnear also thanked Slater & Gordon and the many people and businesses in more than 30 countries who contributed amounts large and small to this landmark case, but warned them that the battle may not be over.
While law firm Slater & Gordon donated its legal services, other costs were provided through a unique crowd-sourced funding campaign organised by the Safe Food Foundation.
Prospects of an Appeal
Steve's lawyers will study the judgment and advise Steve of his legal options.
We will get back to you if Steve decides to appeal.
Your support to assist us to repay the last of our loans is gratefully appreciated so that we can leap into action to further support Steve if the need arises.