The class action against Advanta Seeds by sorghum farmers who claim to have bought seed contaminated with the noxious weed Shattercane will continue.
The case against Advanta, officially brought forward by Mallonland Pty Ltd and ME & JL Nitschke Pty Ltd, came before the Supreme Court of Queensland on April 18 where it was ruled that the case will go forward.
Creevey Russell Lawyers’ principal Dan Creevey, who is representing the growers, said the matter will now proceed on a timetable to hearing if it is not resolved before then between the parties.
Mr Creevey said his firm was representing growers who purchased MR43 Elite sorghum seed anytime between 2010 and 2014 and have allegedly suffered a Shattercane infestation on their land due to the use of that seed.
Shattercane is a weed species closely related to sorghum and other noxious grass weed species such as Johnson grass.
It is alleged bags of the MR43 Elite sorghum sold to farmers were contaminated with shattercane.
Advanta (formerly known as Pacific Seeds) denies the claim and has been ordered by the Judge to provide an amended defence by 24 May 2018 at which time the full details of its response to the allegations will be known.
Spokesperson for Advanta Seeds Nick Gardner said the company would be fighting the allegations, which he stressed had not been proven yet.
“Given customer relationships are integral to the company’s reputation, Advanta Seeds is meticulous in protecting those relationships through the strictest of standards and protocols,” Mr Gardner said.
“Advanta Seeds cannot speculate on the evidence to be presented as part of the court action, nor an outcome, but is confident its stance will be vindicated.”
The case will decide the issue of liability for the sale of the seed and, if Advanta is liable, the damages suffered by the plaintiffs and group members.
The action was commenced in the Supreme Court of Queensland, but covers sorghum growers in Queensland and New South Wales.
The plaintiffs’ case is that, when present in a crop of sorghum, Shattercane competes strongly with the planted sorghum as it has high fertility and results in a reduced yield.
Once present on the land, it can spread vigorously, quickly infesting and overrunning the land.
Due to its close relationship to sorghum it is very difficult to eradicate during a sorghum phase.
Around 50 farmers are believed to be involved in the class action.