Steve Marsh’s organic canola fields in Western Australia suffered 70% genetic contamination from a neighboring biotech farm that sowed Monsanto seeds. As a result, he lost organic certification after 11 years, and his livelihood was destroyed.
Marsh is the first organic farmer in the world, according to a 22-minute video (below), to sue a biotech farmer for damages. The trial begins on Feb. 10 and he’s seeking donations to cover attorney fees.
A global campaign in support of this organic farmer is called “I am Steve Marsh” symbolizing the loss all of us face as a result of the biotech industry’s inability to prevent their lab-created product from contaminating the planet’s natural diversity.
Before filing suit, Marsh sought to protect his fields from contamination by fencing his property and posting warning signs, because seeds can transfer on boots, clothes, tires, etc.:
STRICTLY NO ENTRY
BY VEHICLES OR PERSONS
Lawmakers require little of biotech farms. Chemicals sprayed on those crops get more attention than releasing pesticide tolerant genes into the biosphere.
Scott Kinnear of Safe Food Foundation, who’s handling the fundraising for the Marshes, says GMO fields aren’t even registered with any agency. This means that field size, GPS coordinates, and crop identification aren’t available to the public, so farmers can take no steps to protect their fields.
Genetic contamination is guaranteed, which biotech firms admit. In the 2006 GM rice case where a third of US rice was genetically contaminated by Bayer’s GM rice, Bayer asserted in court that its “containment protocols were equal to or exceeded industry standards when the test rice escaped into the general supplies.”
Therefore, GM crops cannot be contained; genetic contamination of non-biotech fields is assured and irreversible.
Such contaminations impact global as well as domestic trade. As reported in an earlier piece, that 2006 rice contamination event cost the world market over a billion dollars according to Greenpeace.
On top of the financial hit the Marsh family took, and having to jump over into the parallel food system, Steve explains, they also have to rethink land use but with only 30% of their land base – a redesign he calls “awkward.”
It’s a simple tort; someone else’s actions caused harm. Recompense is due. But courts and regulators protect the biotech industry from having to pay damages to organic and chemical farms crushed by GM contamination events.
That’s why this case is so important. The people of the world must unite to protect our farmers, and overturn judicial exemption of an industry for damages it causes.
Donations are being accepted at Safe Food Foundation.
Rady Ananda is the creator of Food Freedom News and COTO Report, Rady Ananda’s work has appeared in several online and print publications, including four books. With a B.S. in Natural Resources from Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture, Rady tweets @geobear7 and @RadysRant.