India Seed Growers Deny Monsanto Royalties
In Bombay High Court, the 50:50 joint venture Mahyco Monsanto (India) Biotech (MMB) is suing nine growers, who produce 60% of India’s cotton seeds. The companies have refused to pay royalties for using Monsanto’s gene technology that makes cotton seeds resistant to the bollworm.
According to reports, the joint venture is owed $65 million by the seed companies, who used the Bollgard (Bt) gene in seeds sown during the recent planting season.
The growers say they are unable to pay, due to government price controls on Bt cotton seed, recently mandated price cuts in Maharahstra, a major cotton growing state, and the rising cost of labor, which has swelled production costs. MMB has rejected their calls for price reductions.
Monsanto’s introduction of Bt cotton technology to India in 2002 reduced cotton crop damage to the extent that the country is now the world’s second largest exporter behind the US. The growers are said to be increasingly squeezed, however.