Feature

Australian Certified Not Quite Organic

Magistrate finds that Australian Organic Standards are too rigid and should be altered to accept GM contamination.

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You may have been following WA farmer, Steve Marsh’s GM contamination case. Marsh (that’s him with his kelpie) is an organic wheat farmer who lost his organic certification after genetically modified canola seeds drifted onto his property during his neighbour’s harvest. The analogy that was used to argue the case is that if you spray chemicals on your farm and those chemicals damage your neighbour’s crop then you are liable for for the cost of those damages.

The magistrate however found that it was the Australian Organic Standards that were to blame for being too rigid and should be altered to accept GM contamination (this ruling is currently being appealed). Following the judge’s line of thinking there is currently an application before OISCC (Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council) to change the organic standard to allow GM contamination on organic farms.This is a pragmatic approach that would prevent the Steve Marsh’s of this world losing their organic certification when something like this happens. It seems sensible but it begins the process of allowing a level of GM contamination in organic food.

It also absolves GM farmers and technology companies of taking responsibility for the damage their products may cause to neighbouring farms which is at the heart of the Steve Marsh case – basically a duty of care between neighbours.

Change.org have petitioned OISCC to keep a zero tolerance for GMO’s on organic farms (now closed). You can also email directly to OISCC here.

If we want our food GM Free then we have speak up.

This article was originally published on CERES Fair Food. An online organic grocer and carbon neutral food delivery service in Melbourne that is helping to create healthier, happier, and more secure local food systems. Check out the fabulous produce they have available and save 5% on your first order by using JOINUS promotional code at the checkout.