Steve Marsh genetically modified canola court case transcripts to be made available online

Steve Marsh is the farmer I described yesterday, suing his neighbour for ‘reckless’ harvesting of GM (genetically modified, genetically engineered) oilseed rape (canola, rapeseed, Brassica napus). Today we learn that court transcripts will be available online.

I’m grateful to GM Watch for drawing attention to this.

[Edit] Here’s the list of transcripts from the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Here’s the transcript from Feb 10th, about Marsh v Baxter. It reminds me why I’m not a lawyer!

For something more readable, here’s a daily blog about the case. That blogger is Julie Newman at the anti-GM Safe Food Foundation.

Ms Newman says, ‘It has been known for over a decade that, if GM is released, contamination is inevitable and economic loss will be caused. While the GM industry expects the non-GM farmer to accept economic loss, Steve Marsh is the first non-GM farmer to claim compensation for the losses caused. Unfortunately compensation can not be claimed from the multinational patent owner Monsanto, as GM farmers accept all liability on behalf of Monsanto as part of the contract signed in order to grow GM seed.

‘The legal case Marsh versus Baxter involves contamination caused by Baxters GM canola that caused decertification by NASAA (certifying body for organics) resulting in economic loss. It can be argued that this case is about who’s responsibility is it to prevent contamination, is the GM farmer responsible for keeping GM contained, or is it up to the non-GM farmer to try to prevent GM entering their farm? Is it fair that the non-GM farmer should be liable for economic loss, or should this loss be compensated by the GM farmer?’

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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10 Responses to Steve Marsh genetically modified canola court case transcripts to be made available online

  1. dinasoliman says:

    Julie Newman poses a great question indeed – who should be responsible for GM contamination on non-GM farms? Contamination from industrial runoff is different from that of GMOs, but perhaps the consequences for both should fall on the same person: the company responsible for the runoff (or in this case, the seed companies). The seed companies made the seeds and knew about the consequences of planting their seeds. Why should the GM farmers be held responsible? If the GM seeds weren’t commercially available in the first place, then there wouldn’t be many GM farms at all. The seeds were doing what seeds are supposed to do: grow in to plants. And the plants were doing what plants are supposed to do: spread their seeds everywhere in order to secure their gene pool into the next generation. This is what evolution is all about, and there’s no stopping it.

    The non-GM farmer shouldn’t be responsible either. They aren’t the ones who were using GM seeds, and want nothing to do with them. It’s not fair that Mr. Marsh lost his organic certification because of something he had no control over whatsoever. Similarly, it wouldn’t be fair to hold Mr. Marsh’s neighbor accountable for what happened because he was just trying to make a livelihood with what he had. (Once a farmer becomes a GM farmer, it’s almost impossible to stop without going bankrupt.)

    • argylesock says:

      Yes indeed. Monsanto saw this coming, hence the non-liability clauses when farmers buy GM seeds.

      What do you mean by, ‘Once a farmer becomes a GM farmer, it’s almost impossible to stop without going bankrupt’? Do you know of cases where this has happened?

      • dinasoliman says:

        I don’t know of any specific cases, but I have read in Joel Salatin’s “Folks This Ain’t Normal” and in Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” that farmers who plant GM crops are trapped in a vicious cycle of production. If they cannot increase their production in order to deal with dropping prices, they are at risk of losing their livelihoods and their farms altogether.

  2. EqFe says:

    Actually it might be better that the case is against the farmer. If Monsanto lost a small lawsuit, it wouldn’t hurt them. If a small farmer last his/her livelihood it might scare off other farmers.

    • argylesock says:

      Good point. I’ve nothing against Mr Baxter and perhaps Mr Marsh doesn’t either – they grew up together, apparently – but this case involves threats to real farmers’ livelihoods. It might affect how other farmers feel and act.

      I forget who it was that said, ‘You don’t need to win arguments. You need to win people.’

  3. Pingback: GM canola trial verdict still unknown | Science on the Land

  4. Pingback: Australian crops with or without genetic modification | Science on the Land

  5. Pingback: Australian organic farmer loses landmark GMO contamination case | Science on the Land

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