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May 31, 2014

Western Australia Supreme Court Declares: “Coexistence” With GMOs Is Impossible

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A judge writing for the supreme court of the state of Western Australia has issued a summary judgement against Steve Marsh, an organic farmer whose certification was revoked when his land was trespassed upon and his soil damaged by GMO canola grown by a neighboring Monsanto contractor. This trespass and vandalism caused severe financial damage to Marsh, over $85000.
 
The court hung its hat on a legalistic peg, that the defendant Michael Baxter harvested his canola in a legal and “orthodox” way. Some quotes from the media summary:
 
 

Mr Baxter had grown a lawful crop in 2010. In deciding both to grow and to swathe that crop that season he had acted with advice of a local agronomist, Mr Robinson. (p.4)
 
Mr Baxter had used an orthodox and well accepted harvest methodology by swathing his RR canola crops in 2010….Mr Baxter was not to be held responsible as a broad acre farmer merely for growing a lawful GM crop and choosing to adopt a harvest methodology (swathing) which was entirely orthodox in its implementation….Mr Baxter had not been shown to have acted negligently, either by growing or then by swathing the lawfully grown GM canola crop in 2010. (p.5)
 
If this is correct, then it’s a stark declaration coming from the highest court in the land that GMOs cannot coexist with organic and non-GM conventional crops. It’s saying that even given the most punctilious adherence to the best practices, contamination is still inevitable. It’s further proof that GMOs are physically totalitarian and offer no options but total abolition or total surrender. See my basic statement on the fact that coexistence with GMOs is impossible.
 
It’s also more proof that the institutions of “our” governments are in fact alien to us and predatory upon us, and see all of humanity as a colony to be ruthlessly exploited. The court is clear that it will recognize no value as having any rights as against the corporate imperative. On the contrary, at least as long as the corporate assault follows the nominal law*, which is generally written and enforced on behalf of the corporations in the first place, humanity is to be allowed no recourse within the system.
 
For these reasons the conclusion some reformers want to draw, that societies need “biotrespass” laws which would specifically address GMO trespass and property destruction, is inadequate. Such a legal proposal goes against the mainstream legal push in favor of the corporate GMO project, and is also part of the “coexistence” framework which cannot physically work regardless. What would even damage awards avail us if non-GMO farming became physically impossible and agricultural germplasm continued to be suicidally narrowed and depleted?
 
The court also saw fit to criticize the Australian organic standards as being too strict: The certification organization had and “unjustified reaction” and made an “erroneous application” of organic standards in decertifying Marsh. So now we have lawyers moonlighting as organic agronomists. This kind of ignorant layman opinionation is typical of GMO proponents, where it’s commonplace to see molecular biologists pontificating about agriculture and plant technicians bloviating about human medicine. (Mind you, it’s not abolitionists who insist that formal credentials necessarily mean anything. We believe in judging people by the content of their character and quality of their ideas, not according to how much alphabet soup follows their names. But since it’s the GMO hacks who constantly insist that democracy must defer to their credentialed expertise, we shall hold them to their own standard and point out that according to their own standard almost all of them are nothing but opinionated, formally ignorant laymen.)
 
In this the court is regurgitating a canned talking point the GMO hacks have been touting since early in the case. Contrary to this canned lie, the organic standards are moderate, and it took severe contamination of Marsh’s land for this land to fail to meet the standard. But in Australia as in the US, organic standards are under assault and being watered down. The goal everywhere is to normalize GMOs under the “organic” rubric.
 
This is another confirmation that coexistence is impossible, since there’s no level of rigor for any non-GMO standard which this court and institutions like it wouldn’t declare to be too rigorous. The court is clear that any such standard is an irritant which the system must not tolerate. Again, nothing is to be allowed to get in the way of the corporate imperative.
 
This case therefore exemplifies how GMOs are totalitarian in the physical sense as well as how their regime is totalitarian in a political and socioeconomic sense. These lead the reasons why “coexistence” is impossible, and why humanity must abolish GMOs. This court’s decision is a document further proving the abolitionist case.
 
[*Monsanto cannot profit unless its seed keeps being planted. The “farmers” who plant this seed, really a kind of industrial shift supervisor, thus primarily function as vectors of corporate profit. They’re under contract to Monsanto to deliver this profit, and to do so according to Monsanto’s strict specifications.]
 
[**The difference between what I call passive corporatists and active corporatists is this concern for the forms of law. Active corporatists support the corporate assault in every context even where it directly breaks the law.]

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8 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Science on the Land.

    Comment by argylesock — May 31, 2014 @ 3:00 am

  2. […] Brassica napus) resistant to the popular weedkiller Roundup (glyphosate) made by Monsanto, which ‘cannot coexist with organic and non-GM conventional crops’. Also this week, we’ve heard of a GM soya (soybean, Glycine max) resistant to an older and […]

    Pingback by Is the GM crops war over? What’s next? | Science on the Land — May 31, 2014 @ 7:47 am

  3. There actually is an old legal doctrine that provides for a finding of strict liability for trespass in this kind of situation, although it looks like Australia eliminated it from their laws.

    See, Rylands v. Fletcher: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rylands_v_Fletcher

    A product liability against Monsanto might be a possibility.

    Comment by taojonesing — May 31, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

    • I’ve long said that part of the platform of any abolitionist movement should be the doctrine of strict liability, and the promise to enforce it if the movement is ever empowered, applicable to the manufacturers, sellers, growers, and/or commodifiers of any GMO variety. That’s primarily on the grounds that they’re co-conspirators in an activity known to cause every kind of contamination, but where it’s usually difficult to impossible to identify the exact source of a particular incident. Thanks for the reference, since I’d be interested in a historical grounding for this as well.

      Meanwhile in this case there was no doubt about the exact source, but it didn’t make any difference. They’re just brazenly carving out an exception for a privileged economic sector. More evidence for how the system views GMOs as critical for being able to keep neoliberal accumulation and the simulation of “growth” propped up. Which is the main reason the GMO sector was aggressively built up and shrouded in lying hype in the first place. It sure wasn’t because anyone paying attention could long have believed in the promises.

      Comment by Russ — June 1, 2014 @ 2:00 am

    • This jurisprudence is common sense and would be obvious to anyone who really believed that the right to swing your fist stops at another person’s face. It also has an affinity with the Precautionary Principle. But I’d especially insist that wherever the PP wasn’t applied and aggressors dogmatically insisted on the implicit safety of their actions, strict liability must apply for ANY damage they cause.

      But of course it’s easy to see why a system based on accumulating power through commodification and “growth” would be hostile to such human values and would presume that profit-seeking action is justified even when it harms others.

      Comment by Russ — June 1, 2014 @ 3:40 am

  4. Here’s more information which puts this ruling in the context of the longstanding general system campaign to water down organic standards or, failing that, to crush the organic sector completely.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/30/us-australia-gmo-organic-idUSKBN0E90HL20140530

    Comment by Russ — June 1, 2014 @ 2:32 am

  5. I love what you say about the hypocrisy of GMO proponents, concerning the “proper credentials”.

    Comment by DualPersonality — June 2, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  6. […] organic farmer Steve Marsh will appeal the biased, fraudulent ruling against him in his GMO contamination lawsuit. The court refused to deal with the case as a simple […]

    Pingback by GMO news Summary, June 20th 2014 | Volatility — June 20, 2014 @ 5:35 am


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