ACTION by a group of WA farmers over the sale of contaminated canola seed began in the Federal Court this week. The action, expected to be heard for three weeks before Justice Wilcox, is a group action by growers alleging they were sold Karoo variety canola seed contaminated with the seeds of the declared weeds cleavers, red shank and field madder. The growers allege Tamworth, NSW, based seed wholesaler Dovuro Pty Ltd was negilgent in failing to disclose the presence of weed seeds in the canola seed. The growers are claiming costs for the additional control measures they were forced to carry out once the foreign seeds were identified in the canola seed, and income lost through production losses and downgrading of the crop due to contamination. The seed was grown in New Zealand in 1995 and imported for planting in Australia in 1996. Karoo was one of the first triazine tolerant canola varieties used in Australia and found a high level of grower interest. The growers' action alleges the urgency to bulk the seed up for sale in Australia prevented a more rigorous series of checks for weed seeds by New Zealand-based supplier of the seed CropMark NZ Limited. In July 1996, Dovuro publicly apologised to growers who had bought contaminated seed and, in conjunction with Agriculture WA, developed a series of suggested chemical control measures for affected crops. Cleavers is a common weed in some areas of eastern Australia and is predominantly a weed of wasteland and gardens. It prefers heavy alkaline soils and wetter environments. Red shank is also present in eastern Australia and is from the same family as wireweed. While cleavers is a declared species in many states, red shank is not prohibited or declared in any Australian state. The case continues this week in the Federal Court in Perth, before an expected two weeks of hearings in Sydney.