Monsanto Vs Australian Organic Farmer Steve Marsh

Organic farmer Steve Marsh is no longer an organic farmer. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready canola has contaminated 70% of Mr. Marsh’s crops.

Steve Marsh is the owner of a certified organic farm in Western Australia. In late December, he received notice from Western Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Food (DFAWA) that 293 hectares โ€“ later found to be 325 hectares โ€“ of his organic farm had been contaminated by Roundup Ready canola. The GM canola arrived on his property from a neighboring farm.

Organic Certification Revoked

Australia’s leading organic certifier, the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA), suspended certification on the 70% of Mr. Marsh’s farm containing the GM canola.

Steve Marsh stands to lose thousands of dollars this year because his formerly organic crop has been downgraded to conventional. Because GM seeds can remain viable for many years, he may have no choice but to continue receiving conventional prices for his crops for several years. He stands to lose a lot more than just the thousands of dollars he will lose this year.

But the Agriculture Minister Looks Out for Small Farmers, Right?

Agriculture Minister Terry Redman has said organic standards are to blame for Mr. Marsh’s financial loss. If the NASAA allowed GM crops to be labeled as organic, this wouldn’t be a problem. Redman has urged Mr. Marsh to petition NASAA to relax their standards.

Agriculture Minister Redman stated last year that non-GM farmers would not be compensated for any contamination by GM crops.

Monsanto Will Cover Legal Fees for the GM Farmer

Monsanto, for their part, has agreed to finance the legal defense of the farmer whose GM canola caused the problems. The GM farmer left a buffer of five meters (16.4 feet) between the Roundup Ready canola and other fields, which is the law in Western Australia.

With the support of the Agriculture Minister, it seems that Monsanto will win this case. Small farmers will not be allowed to make as much of a profit as they might have and they will not be able to control what grows on their land. Going to the extra expense and effort to meet consumer demand for organic goods will not be worth it if the organic crops will be contaminated by GM crops.

I wonder if Steve Marsh will be able to sell his contaminated crops at all. He doesn’t have a license for Roundup Ready canola, so would he have to pay fines to Monsanto?

What Can You Do?

NASAA has started a legal fund for Steve Marsh that you can contribute to. This GM legal battle is the first for Australia. If Monsanto wins, Australia’s organic industry is likely over.

The video below is an interview with Steve Marsh. He explains how the GM contamination happened and the video shows his farm.

Image by, used with Creative Commons permission.

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18 thoughts on “Monsanto Vs Australian Organic Farmer Steve Marsh”

  1. No GM in the world makes a contamination of 70%. He must have cultivated it intentionally, e.g. by selecting RR seeds or similar, if that number is true.

    And are you sure it is Monsanto who covers those legal fees? I read that its the Western Australia’s Pastoralists and Graziers Association, which is probably in terms supported by them, but its still something different, isn’t it?

    1. Sebastian,

      The GM canola is upslope from Steve Marsh’s farm. He is saying that a combination of wind and mild flooding brought the seeds onto his land.

      Monsanto said in December they would pay the legal fees of any GM farmers caught up in a lawsuit in that area. That was before Mr. Marsh decided to sue. Recently, Mr. Marsh stated that he would sue and Monsanto confirmed that they would finance the legal fees.

      Perhaps Monsanto will give the money to WAPGA or something like that. I don’t know.

    2. Hi Sebastian
      Steve Marsh does not grow canola. He raises animals and other crops. The issue with the GM canola is that his neighbour had cut it and left it on the ground to be harvested later (swathing). The wind blew it onto 70% of his land – there was also heavy rain and flooding. The GM canola will sprout and grow. His sheep are eating the GM canola blown onto the land. They are no longer organic. Any crops with GM canola in them – ie oats or wheat or spelt can no longer be sold as organic. Watch the video for an explanation.

      GM canola was trialled in Tasmania (Australia). They decided not to grow it commercially and trials were stopped in the 1990s. GM canola is still coming up in those plots (volunteers – ie self seeded). GM contamination is a massive issue.

  2. It is said that ‘evil prospers when good men do nothing’.

    This is a moment in time where we have a chance to have our voices heard, financially support a man who has been wronged and ensure laws are put in place that do not allow big business to control our destiny.

    It is irrelevant whether you support organic farming or not. Its is the principal that this man has created a livelihood that has been taken from him and he is left helpless but for our support. It is the principal that there are those of us that believe in feeding our families pure,organic foods that are not tainted with pesticides, or any GM foods. It is our rights as Australians to make these choices for our families and if we do nothing these choices WILL be taken from us

    Big business cannot, should not, be able to (inadvertently or not) take away someones livelihood and then fight (and win) the right to do it again without consequence.

    I will publish this article on all my social network accounts and hope you will do the same. Please ensure this story is kept in the media and do your part to bring about the change in laws so this atrocity cannot happen again.

  3. This is crazy, it is another way ,in which big business forces consumers to accept their product, of course monsanto would support a court case to accept gm foods as organic. i wouldnt put it past them to contaminate Steves crop to achieve this outcome.

  4. Why not use their own technology against them?

    Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) have published numerous important findings which show huge instability problems with transgenes.

    Transgenic lines Unstable hence Illegal and Ineligible for Protection

    Read more over at (search for ISIS in the page below):

    more information related to GMO here:

      1. Your’e welcome. Please pass the info on to the farmer.

        ISIS also claims that because of both the American and European patentlaws… many GMO lines should never have been allowed patented. It might be that this GM canola also is unstable, and maybe some Australian law could make it possible for this farmer to sue Monsanto for damages. It’s probably worth looking into….

        Good article of yours by the way … keep up the good work!

  5. I have been spouting about a film called Food Inc, it talks about this company and the damage it has done in the states, its really scary how strong and protected they are-they have managed to have laws changed so no-one can critisize them, and if a farmer goes against them they lose- we dont need this in Australia

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