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India’s Nuziveedu Seeds (NSL) said on Saturday it would not settle a long-standing intellectual property dispute with Monsanto over genetically-modified (GM) cotton, despite some other Indian companies doing so in recent weeks.
Reuters reported on Wednesday that three Indian seed makers — Ajeet Seeds, Kaveri Seed and Ankur Seeds — have agreed to resolve differences and end their arbitration proceedings with Monsanto.
But Monsanto is yet to settle the dispute with Sri Rama Agri Genetics, Amar Biotech and NSL along with two group companies, Prabhat Agri Biotech and Pravardhan Seeds.
“We do not want to compromise,” Narne Murali Krishna, a company secretary of NSL, said on the phone from Hyderabad, the capital of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. “On the IPR (intellectual property rights) matter, we’ll continue with our legal case in the Delhi High Court.”
Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) (MMB), a joint venture between Monsanto and local firm Mahyco, licenses a gene that produces its own pesticide to more than 45 local cotton seed companies in lieu of royalties and an upfront payment.
Acting on complaints by some local seed companies that MMB’s royalties were too high, the farm ministry last year cut the fees these local firms paid to Missouri-based Monsanto.
Since then, Monsanto —which is being bought by Germany’s Bayer for $66 billion — has been at loggerheads with the seed firms and India’s government over how much it can charge for its GM cotton seeds, costing it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue a year.
“Based on the advice of competent IPR lawyers and communications of Monsanto with the Indian patent office, NSL realised that it was cheated by MMB’s false representations and claims on IPR,” Krishna said.
Earlier this year, citing a local law that excludes seeds from being patented, NSL’s Chairman and Managing Director M Prabhakara Rao told Reuters that Monsanto should never have been allowed to collect royalties after an initial payment to use its technology.
At the very least, Rao added, prices should have been set by the government. “Since we first signed the licensing agreement with Monsanto in 2004, we have paid 7.09 billion rupees ($109.59 million), which Monsanto should refund to NSL,” Krishna said. A Monsanto spokesman said: “NSL has already collected the royalty fee from India’s cotton farmers. Instead of honouring the mutually agreed bilateral contract, it continues to default on payments rightfully due to MMB.”