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Monsanto settles GM cotton dispute with three Indian seed firms

The dispute sparked series of govt actions that prompted the world's biggest seed firm to withdraw from some businesses in India

Reuters  |  New Delhi 

Monsanto settles GM cotton dispute with three Indian seed firms

Three leading Indian cotton seed makers have settled an intellectual property with Co over its genetically modified (GM) seed technology, partly ending a legal tussle that has drawn in the Indian and U.S. governments.

Ajeet Seeds, Kaveri Seed Co Ltd and Ankur Seeds were among six Indian that delayed payments to Monsanto, demanding a cut in royalties they paid to the U.S. firm to licence its technology.

"The arbitration proceedings with each of these (three) have concluded by way of consent orders which record the mutually discussed and accepted settlement terms," Shilpa Divekar Nirula, CEO of India, wrote in a letter to India's farm minister last month, and seen by Reuters.

A ministry spokesman said he was not aware of the letter.

The sparked a series of government actions that prompted the world's biggest seed company to withdraw from some businesses in India, one of the world's most important seed markets, Reuters revealed in a special report earlier this year.

Mahyco Biotech (India) (MMB), a joint venture between and local firm Mahyco, licenses a gene that produces its own pesticide to more than 45 local cotton seed in lieu of royalties and an upfront payment.

Acting on complaints by some local seed that MMB's royalties were too high, the farm ministry last year cut the fees these local firms paid to Missouri-based

Since then, - 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 seeds, costing it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue a year.

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Ajeet Seeds and Ankur Seeds told Reuters on Wednesday they had resolved their differences with Calls to Kaveri Seeds' CEO G.V. Bhaskar Rao were not answered.

"In the larger interest of Indian farmers and agriculture, we have settled our differences with Monsanto," said M.G. Shembekar, managing director of Ankur Seeds.

"It's business as usual" with now, added Sameer Mulay, managing director of Ajeet Seeds.

Neither disclosed the terms of the resolution.

However, the Sept. 19 letter to Farm Minister Radha Mohan Singh said has yet to settle with Sri Rama Agri Genetics, Amar Biotech and Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL), along with two group companies, Prabhat Agri Biotech and Pravardhan Seeds.

"While we remain committed to amicable dialogue with any disputing party, and despite our numerous attempts to arrive at a closure, the outstanding disputes with a few ... continue," India's Nirula wrote.

says NSL, based in the southern city of Hyderabad, owes it more than $20 million in royalty payments.

M. Prabhakara Rao, NSL's chairman and managing director, did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Earlier this year, citing a local law that excludes seeds from being patented, Rao told Reuters that should never have been allowed to collect royalties after an initial payment to use its technology. Or, at the very least, he added, prices should have been set by the government.

New Delhi approved the first seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform India into the world's top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre.

"MMB has made several unsuccessful attempts to amicably resolve the bilateral that resulted in such withholding of amounts payable under long-standing agreements," said a India spokesman. "Currently, these matters are pending arbitration in various legal forums."

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, October 12 2017. 01:29 IST
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