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Landmark GM court case to commence today

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The Western Australian Supreme Court will today hear what is expected to be a landmark court case on a farmer’s right to produce genetically modified crops.

Steve Marsh is suing neighbouring farmer, Michael Baxter, for damages and loss of income after his property was contaminated with Roundup Ready GM canola that blew over from Baxter’s property, resulting in the loss of his National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia organic certification on 70 percent of his farm.

Marsh has received support from Australian not-for-profit, the Safe Food Foundation, who says that the case has come at a ‘pivotal time globally’ for genetically modified food.

"We are concerned, depending on which way the result goes, that there is going to be a need for legislation," foundation director Scott Kinnear told ABC News.

"Really, what is about to happen is Steve Marsh's right to grow GM-free food will be reinforced or it will be taken away from him, and that equals our right, or the public's right, to eat GM-free food or perhaps not GM-free food into the future.

"We have to fight this as hard as we can. This is a pivotal time globally for GM, this common law case.

"It's a very difficult conundrum that's got to be solved."

On the other side of the coin, The Western Australian Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) have placed their support behind Baxter.

"When you look at the facts, Michael Baxter has done nothing wrong other than grow a legal crop,” John Snook, Chairman of PGA Western Australia told ABC News.

"When you push the alarmism aside, the case is very clear, that Steve Marsh is trying to impose unnecessary conditions on his neighbour and trying to stop him growing GM canola.

"So we feel we are on very principled and solid ground. A legal precedent will be set."

Australia lifted its moratorium on GM crops five years ago with recent figures suggesting that the overall acceptance of GM canola has been relatively lacklustre.

The case also comes just three months after South Australia extended a moratorium on GM crops until at least 2019, making it the only Australian mainland state to ban GM crop production and trials.


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