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Benchmark GM crop contamination case a bitter tale

  • A landmark court case involving GM contamination of organic crops has torn a farming community apart.

Two hundred and fifty miles north, producer John Snooke grows GM canola and believes organic certification and “zero-tolerance” should be changed. From the Mail: “In Snooke’s book, Steve Marsh as plaintiff is going after the wrong guy. The organic certifier NASAA needs to rethink its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to GM, Snooke says, and create a more realistic threshold for when so-called ‘contamination’ occurs.”

The Marsh vs. Baxter case is a web of legal, ideological, and ecological strands — a nightmare to adjudicate. “In agriculture, storms happen, water flows, wind carries unintended matter in different places. That’s why we need thresholds. To allow neighbors to coexist and allow trade to flourish,” Snooke says.


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Maybe it's not a case of fault or blame; just two farmers literally on opposite sides of the fence, caught up in the GM-organic tangle — agriculture’s version of the Gordian knot. Whatever ruling or precedent the court lays down, there will be no handshakes or happy endings, as Marsh says “… I also can’t help but know a lot of what Michael has gone through; one thing I do know is that there’s no real winners in this case, whoever wins.”


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Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 4, 2014

Hope Marsh wins Baxter's land in court. Come on Aussies: do the RIGHT thing.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 5, 2014

70%, 1.5 km, and 15 years all seem unlikely. Also, not sure about Australian organic rules but I am not aware of a single farmer in the US that has ever lost their organic certification due to the presence of a GMO crop in an adjacent field.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 9, 2014

To be honest, I feel for Mr Baxter. He has agreed to a buffer zone between the crops. He is growing a legal crop in a legal manner. Is it right he loses everything because a Neighbour deems that a legal food crop has blown onto his property?

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