‘World’s first’ farmer trial over GM crop contamination begins in Australia
A landmark legal battle between two farmers over alleged GM contamination has started in the Western Australian Supreme Court. The case is expected to determine GM farmers’ liability if their crops affect neighboring territories.
The globally monitored legal battle involves local farmer Steve Marsh who sued his neighbor Michael Baxter for negligence over the alleged contamination of the land that Marsh used for growing organic oat and wheat crops at Kojonup, 250 km south-east of Perth, Western Australia.
Lawyers say it is the world’s first trial over GM contamination and will set a precedent for future cases.
“As far as we know, this is the first court case of its type anywhere in the world,” said Marsh’s representative Mark Walter, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon’s Commercial and Project Litigation. The case could have an impact on the conventional farming industry and consumers, he said, as cited by the WAtoday news website.
It will test the legal rights of farmers to choose how and what they farm on their land, Walter pointed out.
“It is important that farmers retain their rights to farm GM-free food as this in turn will protect consumers’ ability to purchase GM-free food,” he said.