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Organic grower crushed

Lauren CelenzaCountryman

Kojonup organic grower Steve Marsh has officially lost his organic status for the majority of his farm.

The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) this week delivered the heartbreaking news, saying it had no option but to decertify 325 hectares of Mr Marsh’s farm.

Mr Marsh found genetically modified canola seed from a neighbour’s paddock across half of his arable land late last year. Results of tests conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food released on Christmas Eve confirmed Mr Marsh’s fears of widespread contamination.

NASAA chief executive Stephanie Goldfinch said future certification would require complete removal of all contaminating GM canola and evidence there would be no more germination.

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Agriculture Minister Terry Redman said it was unfortunate that Mr Marsh had his status suspended. However, Mr Redman said there would have been a similar result if his paddocks were contaminated with non-GM conventionally grown canola.

“This is not simply a GM debate,” he said.

“If he had found non-GM canola that could potentially affect his status, so we need to treat it as a coexistence of different farming systems.”

But NASAA chairperson Jan Denham refuted this, saying Mr Marsh’s organic status would not have been pulled if non-GM canola had been found.

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