India High Court Rules Monsanto Can’t Have Bt Cotton Patent

India High Court Rules Monsanto Can’t Have Bt Cotton Patent
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In April 2018, the Delhi High Court in India ruled that Monsanto cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds. [1]

The reasoning behind the decision goes back to the country’s Patents Act of 1970, in which the court said that plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented. As a result, Monsanto can’t stand in the way of its Indian licensee, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., from selling the seeds.

Diya Kapur, a lawyer for Nuziveedu Seeds, explained:

“What it means is effectively Monsanto has no patent on seeds in India and they have never had it. They have tried to hoodwink the seed companies and farmers for years claiming they have a patent and were making huge amounts of money from that.” [1]

Read: Farmers in India Reject GM Crops after Whitefly Attack Destroys Cotton Fields

Two years ago, Monsanto threatened to stop conducting business in India after the government imposed price controls on cotton seeds.

Monsanto’s GM seeds were introduced to India in 1995. Today, 90% of the country’s cotton crop is genetically modified. The crops contain a pest-resistant toxin called Bacillus thuringiensis, hence the name “Bt cotton.”

Bitika Sharma, a lawyer for Monsanto, said that the company may challenge the order in the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, the biotech giant has the option of applying to India’s Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authorities for the registration of its Bt cotton seeds and charge a fee. The amount of that fee would be up to the Delhi High Court. [2]

Read: Huge: GMO Bt Cotton Crop Failure Leads to Cotton Ban

A spokesman for Monsanto in India said that the company was “very disappointed” with the court order, adding:

“Today’s order will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India, and is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished.” [3]

A Setback for Monsanto

It has been a rough spring for Monsanto, which is being acquired by Bayer AG in a $66 billion deal. [2]

In March, India cut the royalty on Monsanto’s Bollgard 2 cotton seeds from 49 to 39 rupees ($0.60) per 450-gram pack.

Indian seed companies licensed by Monsanto to produce and sell its Bt cotton seeds in the country may approach the Competition Commission of India to attempt to recoup the money paid by farmers to Monsanto, according to Kalyan Goswami, director general of the seed producers’ group.


[1] EcoWatch

[2] Bloomberg News

[3] The Wire