|Monsanto strikes hard|
|Friday, 26 August 2016 05:21|
Refusal to work with hostile policy hits farmers
Monsanto’s unprecedented decision to withdraw the application for its Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex technology is a big, and public, challenge to the government’s policy on licensing seeds technology. The move is significant as it comes at a time when the government is in the middle of a consultation on whether to limit royalty rates of seed-tech companies at 10% of the seed price for the first five years, followed by a 10% reduction in each of the following years. Since this order, by way of a gazette notification, came just before prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the media attention forced the government to pass it off as a discussion paper. Indeed, last year, the government came out with a seeds price order which not only resulted in the price of the GM seeds being cut sharply, the cut was far sharper for trait values, or the royalty that firms like Monsanto charge for giving their technology to seed-producing firms. While the Bollgard II seeds price was cut from R930 per bag of seed—with 450 grams of seed and 120 grams of ‘refugia’ seed—to R800, the trait fee was cut from R163 to R42; so while Monsanto took a hit of R121, the seed companies took a hit of just R9 per bag. And earlier this year, based on the complaints of seed companies who were selling Monsanto’s seeds under license, the ministry of agriculture made a complaint to the Competition Commission of India and asked it to probe allegations of anti-competitive practices by Monsanto.