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7-Business: Monsanto seeks to keep off Bt wrangle in India



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TITLE:  Monsanto seeks to keep off Bt wrangle
SOURCE: Business Standard, India
        http://www.business-standard.com/search/storypage_new.php?
leftnm=lmnu1&leftindx=1&lselect=1&autono=217865
DATE:   09 Mar 2006

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Monsanto seeks to keep off Bt wrangle

The US-biotech major Monsanto Inc on Tuesday sought removal of its name
from the ongoing legal dispute between its Indian arm Mahyco Monsanto
Biotech India and Andhra Pradesh government over the fixing of high
prices for Bollgard Technology (BT) improved genetically modified cotton
seeds for the Indian market.
 
Monsanto Inc, in its application before the Monopolies & Restrictive
Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC), sought deletion of its name from the
list of parties on the ground that no relief was being sought against it
by the state as it was neither involved in the licensing process nor in
the price fixing and trading of Bt cotton seeds in the country.
 
Mahyco Monsanto counsel AN Haksar informed the commission that the
company had already slashed the price of Bt cotton seeds by 30 per cent
from Rs 1250 to Rs 900 for 450 grams of seed in the market. Besides,
there was no urgency in the matter which warrants any immediate
attention, he added.
 
The commission has fixed the next date of hearing on March 27 and will
decide on the Andhra Pradesh government's application requesting it to
hear the matter in Hyderabad.
 
Meanwhile, Mahyco Monsanto in its reply has denied charges of any
restrictive and unfair trade practices likely to affect public interest,
or interest of traders or the consumers.
 
"In fact, Mahyco Monsanto should be applauded for making technology
available to farmers through many sub-licensees," it stated.
 
According to the company, it had been selling BT cotton seeds since 2002
in India at comparable prices and there was huge demand for the seeds.
The savings and benefits to the farmers far outweigh the initial cost of
the seeds, it said.
 
"Though the farmer pays a higher price for the BT seeds than for
conventional hybrid, yet the farmer does so because of commercial
consideration. Farmers have the option of buying or not buying BT seeds,
and there is no binding or pressure upon the farmers to purchase seeds,"
it said.
 
It further said that the commission can neither determine the prices at
which the BT cotton seeds should be sold nor fix the price of licensing
technology to its sub-licensees, Mahyco Monsanto said.
 
While stating that allegations are speculative in nature, Mahyco Monsanto
said that it did not set out any price below which the seeds could not be
sold.
 
However, "in any event earning profit is not an offence under law
including under MRTPC Act," it said.
 
The Andhra Pradesh government had moved the commission against the
multinational seeds major including its Indian subsidiary Mahyco Monsanto
and its distributors - Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Ltd, Rasi Seeds Pvt Ltd,
Nuziveedu seeds Ltd and Pro Agro Seed Co Pvt Ltd - alleging charging
abnormally high trait value (royalty).


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