Global biotech and agricultural giant Monsanto lent financial support to a West Australian farmer who was being sued by a neighbor over alleged cross-contamination of the latter’s organic crops, company officials have said.
The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported that the organic farmer, Steve Marsh, took neighbor Michael Baxter to court after Marsh’s organic canola crop allegedly became contaminated in 2010 by seeds from Baxter’s property. Marsh said the contamination occurred when genetically modified canola seeds blew over from his former childhood friend’s nearby field during a harvesting process called swathing. Marsh said in court that this resulted in the loss of organic certification for more than 70 percent of his land.
In May 2014, the Western Australia Supreme Court tossed Marsh’s claim and awarded Baxter more than $800,000 in legal expenses.
Marsh appealed the ruling, however, and in March, the same court ordered Baxter to disclose any financial assistance he has received from both Monsanto and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia, an agricultural industry group.
For its part, Monsanto said in a statement that the legal battle had been difficult for the families and communities that are involved in the dispute. The agri-giant also justified its assistance.