GM appeal rests on ‘duty of care’

24 March 2015. Source:

An appeal by Kojonup organic farmer Steve Marsh against a Supreme Court finding in favour of his GM-cropping neighbour, Michael Baxter, will hinge on whether appeal judges are convinced Mr Baxter had a greater duty of care to protect Mr Marsh’s organic certification.

Former Western Australian governor Malcolm McCusker, appearing for Mr Marsh and his wife Susan, asserted on Monday, the opening day of the appeal, that Mr Baxter was in breach of his duty of reasonable care when he harvested a genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready canola crop by swathing without considering the risk of swathes blowing over the fence.

“He (Mr Baxter) had a duty to ensure (GM) canola does not go onto a neighbour’s property,” Mr McCusker said.

“Mr Baxter’s duty was to take reasonable care to ensure his farming practises and GM product did not adversely affect his neighbour’s organic certification.”

After a high-profile 11-day hearing in February last year, Justice Kenneth Martin found in part there was no common-law negligence or breach of reasonable duty of care by Mr Baxter in growing a lawful GM crop and deciding to swathe it – cut it, rake it into windrows to dry and then process it to recover the seed.