This coming Monday, February 10, Steve Marsh, an organic farmer from Kojonup, south of Perth, is going to court against neighboring farmer Michael Baxter whose Monsanto GM canola blew into his farm in 2010. Due to this incident Steve Marsh lost his organic certification and most of his income. For the past three years, he has struggled to make ends meet while working to decontaminate his land and get his organic certification back. As Monsanto has a no liability agreement with GM farmers it prevents them from being sued. Steve’s only choice was to take his neighbor to court for compensation of loss and damages.
Slow Food supports Steve Marsh’s case and the Save Food Foundation that supported him in his fight again unjust treatment. We hope that this injustice against organic farmers who are threatened by GM contamination will not continue to go unseen.
Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food International, said in this regard: “The case of Steve Marsh offers concrete proof of the fact that GMOs pose a threat not only to the environment, but also to a fundamental right, the right to food sovereignty. It is unacceptable that an Australian organic farmer should lose certification for approximately 70% of his land after it was contaminated by Monsanto GM canola from a nearby farm. GMOs are depriving farmers and consumers of their fundamental right to choose. The former cannot choose what they grow, while the latter often cannot choose what they eat. For this reason, we support Steve Marsh in his battle, and we invite everyone to participate in the global Twitter storm using the hashtag #IamSteveMarsh. Even though this is just the story of one Australian farmer, the way in which it plays out in the courts on February 10 could have global implications.”
This case is not an exception: The Steve Marsh case is just one of many cases worldwide in which GM farms negatively influence organic or conventional farms, and the livelihoods of farmers. Significantly, this is a one-sided risk that never happens the other way round. It cannot be legal for an organic farmer to loose his license as a result of an external and involuntary imposition; nor should he have to work and invest in regaining his livelihood. This is why Slow Food is against the commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) crops. We promote GM free food and animal feed and we are active in a global campaign against all genetically modified organisms.
You can find more information on Steve Marsh’s case on the website of the Save Food Foundation