WA organic farmer must pay $804,000 in court costs after losing GM legal battle

Date: 22 March 2016
Author: Australian Associated Press

Steve Marsh had tried to sue his GM-canola-cultivating neighbour Michael Baxter over claims his herbicide-resistant crop contaminated his organic farm

Farmer Steve Marsh surrounded by supporters outside the Western Australia supreme court in September. Photograph: Rebecca Le May/AAP

A West Australian farmer who tried to sue his neighbour after genetically modified canola blew on to his land, contaminating his organic crop, must now pay a hefty court costs bill after a stay order was lifted.

Kojonup farmer Steve Marsh failed in his lawsuit against childhood friend Michael Baxter in 2014, saying he had lost organic certification for 70% of his farm because of contamination from Baxter’s herbicide-resistant crop.

Marsh had sought $85,000 in damages, but was instead ordered to pay court costs of about $804,000.

Last year, the full bench of the court of appeal unanimously allowed Marsh’s challenge to the costs order, ruling it should be stayed until further order, which came on Tuesday.

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