UPDATE 28 May 2014
On Wednesday 28 May the judgment came down in Steve Marsh’s landmark case against his GM canola growing neighbour. We are very disappointed to report that Steve lost the case. You can read the Safe Food Foundation press release here.
Steve is considering his legal options and we will report back if he decides to appeal the decision.
In the meantime the Safe Food Foundation is continuing to fundraise to pay back loans taken out to fund the case. We are nearly there. If you have not done so recently please make a donation so that we are in the strongest position to assist Steve whichever way he decides to go.
You might not have heard of Steve Marsh yet but this man could lose everything to protect your right to eat GM-free food. Steve is an organic farmer from a farming community South of Perth in Kojonup, Western Australia. In 2010, the state government of Western Australia lifted the ban on GM canola, allowing for the commercial cultivation of this GM crop for the first time. As a result many farmers, including Marsh’s next door neighbour, began growing GM canola. Subsequently, Steve found GM canola plants spread over much of his farm, containing seed. 70% of Steve’s farm was contaminated and he lost his organic certification.
Please have a look at our short video above explaining his story and join us in supporting Steve to protect the future of GM-free food. If you would like to know more, the full version of the video is also available here.
This contamination has had a dramatic impact on Steve and his livelihood, while Monsanto, because of their no liability agreement signed with each GM farmer, are free of any responsibility yet gain all the profit. Instead of accepting this biotech invasion, Steve has decided to take a stand. As the only avenue available, Steve is taking his neighbour to court for compensation of loss and damages.This case is the first of its kind in Australia, where an organic farmer is proactively seeking compensation from a GM farmer when his rights have been violated by GM contamination. This is something that Steve does not want to do but he has no other option if he wants to stand up for his rights as well as ours. Respected food journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, John Newton, says “Steve Marsh is a hero”.
“Steve Marsh is one person, but Steve Marsh is everyone” – Costa Georgiadis #IamSteveMarsh
The labelling system in Australia and New Zealand is full of loop holes and often the only way to be certain that a food is GM-free is to buy organic. When Steve took his issue to the Agricultural Minister at the time, Terry Redman, he was told that the organic standards are to blame for his loss! The organic standards are at threat, farmer’s rights are not protected and ultimately, our choices are at threat.
If the court decides that it is ‘unreasonable’ for the organic industry to have a zero tolerance for GMO’s, the result is that in Australia you will have no right to eat GM-free products and no way to guarantee that products grown in Australia are GM-free. The cost to purchase and trade in GM-free products will skyrocket if non-GM farmers have to pay the cost of contamination. And eventually, GM-free crops may be eradicated due to contamination in the long-term!
Steve is standing up for what he believes in but he cannot do it alone that is why the Safe Food Foundation is coordinating to fund raise towards Steve’s legal costs to ensure that Steve has his chance to go to court and win for every one of us. We are running a high profile campaign to increase public awareness about the threat of GM to non-GM and organic farming, to highlight the risks of GMO and other potentially unsafe agricultural practices, both in Australia and worldwide.
The international law firm of Slater & Gordon has taken on the case under their public interest policy but there are still many other costs necessary for barristers, court costs and expert witnesses and this is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cost is usually a major deterrent to people from taking issues like this to court, especially when the issue has attributed to a considerable loss for the persons involved.
If you believe farmers should have the right to produce GM-free food which ultimately equals your right to eat it, if you believe the GM-free farmer should not be the one responsible to pay the cost of contamination, please support Steve and make a donation now!