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WA to hear landmark GM contamination case -

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STEVEN CANNANE, PRESENTER: A West Australian farmer is set to launch legal action against a
neighbour who allegedly contaminated his property with genetically modified canola.

The landmark case will be heard in the WA Supreme Court and will scrutinise the rights of farmers
to decide what they grow on their land.

Minsi Chung reports.

MINSI CHUNG, REPORTER: It is the first time an Australian farmer is taking another to court over GM
crop contamination.

Kojonup wheat grower Steve Marsh was stripped of his organic status last December and has since
been unable to sell his crops at a premium but there's also been an emotional cost for Mr Marsh,
who says he shouldn't have been forced to take his lifelong friend Michael Baxter to court.

STEVE MARSH, KOJONUP FARMER: Had proper regulation been put in place and the evidence properly
dealt with at the time, because as I say, a lot of people knew this couldn't be contained. We
shouldn't be in this position. That's the saddest part.

MINSI CHUNG: The WA Government rolled out trials of GM canola in the southern half of the State in
2009. Mr Marsh alleges Mr Baxter, who is his neighbour, was negligent in allowing GM canola to blow
on to his property and is suing for loss of income.

It is believed to be the first legal action of its kind in Australia. The test case is expected to
have far reaching implications for Australian agriculture.

MARK WALTER, SLATER AND GORDON: Where there's neighbourhood conflict, it's always a difficult
decision to make but there is a high level of concern in relation to what is going to happen with
GM crops and how that might impact on their farming practices.

SCOTT KINNEAR, SAFE FOOD FOUNDATION: It will tear rural Australia apart and hopefully this case
will be the only one and hopefully the legislators will see the impact of Steve's case and the
result will change legislation quickly.

MINSI CHUNG: Lawyers for Michael Baxter say he denies liability and will defend the case. A
spokesman for the Agriculture Minister says the government can't comment because the issue is
before the courts.

Minsi Chung, Lateline.