THE GMO SCRAPBOOK: A LANDMARK CASE IN AUSTRALIA?June 12, 2014
This article was shared by a regular reader, Mr. G.B., and it concerns a landmark case involving GMOs: Here it is:
When I first read this, I was at a loss to see how this could conceivably be construed as a victory for conventional crop farmers. But consider the suit: in this case, a farmer who did not grow GMOs (Mr. Marsh) was suing a farmer who did grow GMOs(Mr. Baxter), for contaminating his field and causing him to lose his organic certification. The Western Australian court, however, had a problem with this, and the problem was the ridiculous nature of the non-GMO farmer's claims:
"Mr Marsh claimed the contamination caused him to lose his organic certification on more than half his Kojonup property for almost three years.
"But Justice Kenneth Martin said Mr Baxter could not be held responsible just for growing a GM crop in a conventional way.
"'The end of season winds and the blowing of swathes from Sevenoaks eastwards into Eagle Rest had not been an outcome intended by Mr Baxter,' he said in his judgment summary."
In other words, no one should be able to sue for a simple act of nature. Now, if the same logic were applied in other countries where big agribusiness giants sue farmers for having fields that contain a couple of GMO plants carried there by the winds or in bird droppings, the suits should have received a similar response. Of course, the Australian court's common sense did not prevail in such instances, for money and other inducements are a strong incentive to abandon reason and common sense. But, if the Australian court's decision ends up having any wider influence beyond that country, one might expect a few countersuits are in the cards. If the same logic were to be applied in the American courts, which have tended to prefer the claims of agribusiness, then those persecutions of non-GMO farmers whose fields were accidentally contaminated by the GMO plants would have been - and should have been - laughed out of court.
But of course, they weren't.
But in one important respect the Australian court has failed to see the nature of Mr. Martin's complaint: he has lost his organic certification because of the growth of GMO crops on a nearby field, which were carried by processes of nature to his own fields, where the crops were not wanted, and where they caused financial damage to him in the form of the loss of certification. So what, precisely, is the difference between, say, a chemical company storing hazardous materials in the ground, on its own property, which materials then leak into the water table, let us say, and end up causing innumerable health problems for a community, or which, let us say, cause a farmer's crops, watered with that water, to be branded a health hazard? It is, after all, the GMO crop, not naturally occurring seeds, which have been introduced into the equation, and while the GMOs may indeed be "lawful" in Australia, the bigger issue still remains: was the science behind GMOs legitimate? or did agribusiness "cut corners" in order to gain those lawful certifications. Did agribusiness grease the palms of politicians and regulators? And if so, why the need to do so, if the science was legitimate and anyone with reason could see that it was?
Thus the issue has not gone away. If anything, the Australian court's decision has focused it even more clearly. Mr. Martin has, as the article indicates, appealed the decision. But in the end, in the corrupted courts of the West, one doubts if he stands a fair chance. The West's organic farmers may end up having to move to countries like Russia, in order to raise their crops.
And that, I submit, says what the real problem has become.
See you on the flip side...