Contamination case alarms growers

Erganic farmer Steve Marsh.
Camera IconErganic farmer Steve Marsh. Credit: The West Australian

Organic growers in WA are concerned a pending court case could have a detrimental effect on organic standards.

Organic Association of Western Australia president Leesa Caldwell said the organic industry is anxiously awaiting the outcome of the court case between organic farmer Steve Marsh and his genetically modified canola-growing neighbour Michael Baxter.

The case, which is due to begin on February 10 in the Supreme Court in Perth, relates to a contamination event where GM canola from Mr Baxter's farm blew onto Mr Marsh's farm.

Australian organic standard OS6000 does not permit any GM contamination on farmland or in product.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


This event resulted in Mr Marsh losing his certification.

He is suing his neighbour for loss and damages.

Ms Caldwell saw two possible outcomes - either the integrity of organic standards would be upheld and remain GM-free, or it would be relaxed to incorporate some level of GM contamination.

"Certified organics is our only guarantee of 100 per cent GM-free food," she said.

"If we see a watering down of organic standards as a result of this court case we will not be able to deliver to our markets.

"We are very proud of our organic standards here in Australia.

"Our members work very hard to achieve certification and have to continually strive to maintain that level. Now this is under threat by something totally out of our control.

"We would like to encourage all people who enjoy the confidence of organic and GM-free food to stand with Steve as he faces this landmark case."

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails