Friday, January 21, 2011

Legal battle over GM contamination

A big legal battle over contamination by genetically modified crops is brewing in Western Australia, following organic farmer Steve Marsh's loss of his organic certification because of GM contamination.

For the first time in Australia, an organic farmer has lost his organic status because of contamination by GM canola. Kojonup farmer, Steve Marsh, confirmed that his oat and wheat crops have been downgraded to conventional crops because 70 per cent of his property has been contaminated with Monsanto's Roundup Ready Canola.

Considering that organic wheat sells for $500 to $800 a tonne more than conventional wheat and GM seeds can remain viable for a number of years, Mr Marsh is facing massive financial losses. He has confirmed he will take legal action. In response, Monsanto has announced that it will bank-roll it's GM farmers legal defence - the sort of move expected from this global corporate bully.

Meanwhile, the Western Australian Government has done nothing to assist Mr Marsh. Agriculture Minister Terry Redman simply repeats Monsanto's position. Minister Redman wrote to Mr Marsh, putting the blame on organic standards for not allowing GM contamination. "The threshold for accidental presence in organic crops is an important issue which needs to be addressed to enable coexistence," Minister Redman wrote, stating that zero tolerance for GM in organic crops is "unrealistic".

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