Steve Marsh Loses Appeal - Media Release

Sad David vs Goliath: GM contamination judgement day.
Steve Marsh's loss in the Marsh v Baxter case today by a 2 to 1 vote of the judges just confirms that the Barnett government sold out organic and GM-free farmers. Common law and the courts can't deliver a fair remedy to family farmers for GM contamination of organic and GM-free farms.
 
"Monsanto and the government should have been in the dock.
 
"This was the world's first farmer versus farmer court case over GM contamination, but with Monsanto backing him it was not a trial for Michael Baxter.
"Steve and Sue Marsh had no other avenue but the courts to recover their losses from Michael Baxter's genetically manipulated (GM) canola that blew onto their place," says Gene Ethics Director Bob Phelps.
 
"The Barnett Government should have created a Farmer Protection Fund to collect a levy of $1/kg on all GM seed sales, before it lifted the GM canola ban.
"Money from the Fund would have automatically compensated Steve and Sue for their losses, extra costs and harm.
 
"Other GM-free and organic growers who suffer GM contamination could also recompensed without going to court and risking their farms.
 
"Monsanto could easily have paid Steve for his economic losses of $85,000 but the company rejected the option and funded Michael Baxter's side of the court case instead.
"This left the Marshs vulnerable to losing the farm and bearing the losses of GM contamination, while Baxter had nothing at stake and that was completely unfair," Mr Phelps says.
"The order for costs against Steve Marsh is also unreasonable and they may lose their farm as the result of today's decision.
"To make matters worse, Premier Barnett is also set to repeal the GM Crops Free Areas Act 2003 that will expose farmers to more GM risks in the future.
"Around 90% of the state's grain exports must be certified GM-free and sustainably grown or they are rejected.
"Yet new GM crops could be commercialised with no public consultation at all, exposing Western Australia's export grain markets to avoidable risks of catastrophic collapse.
"For the good of the state and national economy, the Premier must back Labor's plan to make WA GM-free again to protect our family farmers, agriculture and the food industry.
 
"Barnett is playing genetic roulette with the state's future and the dice are loaded against him.
 
"The quest for GM-free is not over," Bob Phelps concludes.
 
Comments:
Bob Phelps      03 5968 2996 or 0449 769 066