GM case brings heavy toll

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

Steve Marsh said he and his wife had been living a life of uncertainty for more than five years since first discovering the GM contamination, and now face potential financial ruin as they contemplate their next move.

He said they received thousands of phone calls from people offering help when news of the contamination broke, and "at that time we were open to people".

"We had GM farmers, industry people and the media come and look at the situation on our farm and we most definitely were not trying to hide anything," Mr Marsh said.

"We spoke out to the extent we did because we felt at the time that we were being ignored by the State Government and DAFWA about our concerns."

Mr Marsh said his faith that DAFWA would assist them soon evaporated.

"When we tried to get DAFWA to investigate the contamination only days after it happened, we quickly realised the department was not going to deal with the situation to our satisfaction and from then on we knew getting a sound resolution was going to be very difficult for us," he said.

Mr Marsh said apart from the stresses of their legal action against their neighbour, they had to deal with the forces of negative public opinion against the couple.

"We were openly criticised for not pulling out the GM canola volunteers that had grown on our property, and asked why we did not appeal (against) the decision by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture to decertify 70 per cent of the organic farm," he said. Still considering legal advice on his options after losing the appeal, Mr Marsh said the case had caused the couple irreparable financial ruin.

"You can never get back the lost opportunities that were open to us before the case, but even discounting those we may never recover from this," he said.

Mr Marsh said the emotional impact had taken a taken a heavy toll on him, and also his wife.

"Since the contamination and the subsequent legal action we took, we've had some very serious ups and downs but I have been very fortunate to have a wife that has been prepared to stand by me through thick and thin," he said.

Mr Marsh said when they chose to pursue damages through the courts, they were not prepared for the impact it would have on their lives. He said their biggest disappointment was that they were placed in a position where they had no option but to pursue damages from their neighbour.

"We're at a loss to this day why this matter couldn't have been resolved out of court," he said.

"Clearly there is a fundamental problem in this State where a matter of GM contamination puts farmer against farmer."

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