In what can only be described as a public relations disaster for Monsanto, the company has been forced to admit Wednesday that it financially supported the legal defense of the farmer who contaminated Steve Marsh’s farm in Western Australia. The GMO contamination of Steve Marsh’s organic farm has received worldwide attention over the past few months (#IAmSteveMarsh).
Monsanto Australia’s Managing Director, Daniel Kruithoff said Wednesday, “Although we were not a party to the litigation, we respect Michael and Zanthe Baxter’s choice to defend themselves. Their neighbor initiated a legal claim against them when they were responsibly growing a safe and legal crop, as was clearly established in the Supreme Court’s verdict.
“Both farmers were entitled to seek support for this legal dispute so that their arguments could be heard in court. It was only fair that the Baxters received much needed support given the extensive fundraising efforts of Steve Marsh’s supporters. Monsanto Australia contributed to the Baxter’s legal costs to ensure they could defend themselves in court,” Daniel added.
Western Australian farmer Michael Baxter was ordered in late March by the Western Australian Supreme Court to disclose any financial help he may have received from the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) or Monsanto for legal costs in the landmark case. This court order has forced Monsanto to reveal it’s support for Baxter but has not yet revealed how much financial support was supplied.
The court also put a stay on an earlier court order that organic farmer Steve Marsh pay Mr Baxter, who is his neighbor, about AUD 800,000 in costs after Marsh’s compensation case was dismissed in May.
Marsh sought compensation after he lost organic certification over 70 per cent of his farm when GM canola swathes and seeds from Baxter’s property blew onto his land in 2010.