An Australian organic farmer has launched legal action against his neighbour after genetically modified canola blew onto his farm making authorities to take away his organic licence.
Believed to be Australia's first lawsuit over GM crops, organic farmer Steve Marsh is suing his neighbour Michael Baxter. Marsh wants compensation for the loss of his lucrative organics title and subsequent business losses, according to his lawyer, who said it could set an important precedent for GM farming.
Marsh had spent 10 years building up his organic food business and was devastated by the loss of his certificate, with about 70% of his land now unusable for organic farming.
"We've had our farm for 20 years, but since losing our organic accreditation last December we haven't been able to fulfil contracts," Marsh said. "We have invested a great amount of time and money to bring organic produce to market. Now all that hard work has been for nothing."
Marsh wants the Supreme Court to rule that Baxter was negligent and pay him compensation.
Precedent on land use
But agricultural lobbyists warned that the case could set a dangerous precedent about land use.
"Whether or not this case is really over GM, or it's over one farmer's farming interfering with someone next door," said Rob Gillam, president of the Pastoralists and Graziers Association.
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