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Govt hardens stance on cotton seed price control
12
Apr '16
The government has hardened its stance on cotton seed price control, insisting that it will continue to regulate prices of cotton seed and will not allow companies like American agro-chemical major Monsanto to exploit farmers.

Addressing a two-day kharif conference in New Delhi, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said asserted that the government would not allow "monopoly by seed and pharmaceutical companies" and would regulate prices of seeds and medicines, if required.

Monsanto has been locked in a legal battle with the government since it issued an order to control cotton seed prices including trait or royalty value, effective from 2016-17 crop year (July-June). Mayhco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL), a joint venture firm of Monsanto, had challenged the government's seed control order in the Delhi High Court in December 2016.

Last month, the government for the first time fixed a uniform price of Rs 800 per packet for Bt cotton seed including a small royalty of Rs 49 -- a move that will benefit farmers, but hit the Indian business of Monsanto.

"It (Monsanto) is a good company. We respect them, but that does not mean you loot farmers and charge whatever price, because you have knowledge. Be it seed or pharma, we will continue to regulate prices, whenever required," PTI quoted Singh as saying.

The trait value has been reduced by over 70 per cent for the season 2016-17 starting next month despite Monsanto's threat to quit the country.

In March, Monsanto had warned of re-evaluating presence in India and holding back new technology if the government cuts trait fee of Bt cotton seeds drastically through "arbitrary and potentially destructive" interventions.

MMBL has sub-licenced Bt cotton seed technology since 2002 to various domestic seed companies. Farmers bought Bt cotton seeds in the price range of Rs 830-1,000 per packet (450 gram) across the country in 2015-16 season.

MMBL is also facing a probe by fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) for alleged abuse of market dominance. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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