The Telangana government is complaining to an Indian State High Court that companies like Monsanto, along with Indian associates such as Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, are exploiting farmers in the South India state.
Senior counsel C S Vaidyanathan, who appeared for the Telangana government, said that though Monsanto was charging only Rs 23 as royalty per pack of BT cotton seeds, its 50-50 Indian partner, Mahyco, and several seed manufacturers, were fleecing farmers by collecting Rs 1,250 per pack as a ‘royalty.’ The government had previously fixed Rs 50 as the maximum royalty allowed per seed pack.
Monsanto apparently had no right to collect any royalties though, since, according to Vaidyanathan, Monsanto does not possess a patent for BT1 cotton seed varieties, and only owns a patent for the BT2 variety. The company has been collecting royalties for both.
Senior counsel for Monsanto, Abhishek Singhwi said that the bench was ‘shedding crocodile tears’ for farmers.
He questioned how the state could file for an appeal three months after the initial court ruling was made. Singhwi also charged the seed manufacturers of running a proxy legal war, citing several pending writ petitions filed against Monsanto in Mumbai and in Hyderabad. He stated:
“Our royalty charge is not more than Rs 100 per pack and not Rs 1,000 or more as is being alleged. We don’t have any problem if the state brings down the price of BT cotton seeds. All that we are saying is that state cannot fix royalty charges.”
This may well be true, but Monsanto, and its proxy army corporations, cannot charge royalties on patents they don’t own.
As a result, the Indian Agricultural Minister has confirmed that royalties to biotech giant Monsanto for its genetically modified cotton seeds will be capped at 49 rupees (73 cents U.S.) per 450-pack, amounting to a 70 percent reduction from current levels. Monsanto is threatening to ‘pull-out’ in response to the cap.
In an act of sheer defiance against the seed monopolizing company, who also happened to introduce GM cotton seed illegally into the country, the Indian government has also capped GM cotton seed prices at 800 rupees for a packet of 400 grams
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.