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Appeal against HC order on BT cotton seed price dismissed

Press Trust of India  |  Bengaluru 

The Karnataka High Court today dismissed an appeal filed against the order of single judge, vacating the ex-parte interim orderof staying the central government's decision to slash BTcotton seed price.

A division bench comprising Justices Abdul Nazir and B Veerappa passed the order, which means that the central government's decision to fix the maximum price for BG-II variety of BT Cotton at Rs 800, which also includes the fixed trait value at Rs 49 per packet of 450 grams, stands.

It also means that biotechnology enterprises arenow prohibited from selling the BT cotton seeds above Rs 800per packet of BG-II variety.

The Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises had filed the appeal against the order of Justice A S Bopanna, who had vacated the high court's earlier order of staying the central government's decision to slash BT cotton seed price.

In the appeal, the association contended that the fixation of trait value was legally untenable as Section 3 of Essential Commodities Act and allowed the government to onlyfix the maximum sale price of the commodity itself, but notthe price of discrete components of an essential commoditysuch as licence fee that comprises the final sale price.

The high court, in an interim order in March, had said that the central government could not fix BT Cotton seed price, including trait value on 450 packet of BG-II variety.

In contrast to Rs 830 to Rs 1,100 cotton seed prices, the central Agriculture Ministry in March had notified the MSP rate along with a pan-India ceiling price of BT Cotton seeds at Rs 800 a packet on BG-II variety.

These fixed prices were recommended by a committee set up by the Agriculture Ministry and a notification was issued onDecember 7, 2015.

The decision was taken to bring BT Cotton seeds under price control to bring uniformity in prices across thecountry in view of farmers feeling the pinch of bloated seedprices.

Monsanto had recently threatened to re-evaluate its presence in India and hold back new technology if the plan to reduce the trait value is not rolled back.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMBL), a joint venturebetween Monsanto and Maharashtra-based Mahyco, hassub-licenced BT Cotton seed technology since 2002 to variousdomestic seed companies.

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First Published: Fri, July 22 2016. 23:13 IST