The National Democratic Alliance government on Wednesday said US seed maker Monsanto Company is free to leave India if it does not want to lower prices of genetically modified cotton seeds as per new rules. This is the first time the government has fixed a uniform price for Bt cotton seeds since they were introduced in 2002. A packet of the seeds, which used to cost anything between Rs 830 and Rs 1,000, will now be sold at Rs 800 across the country, reported PTI.
After the Centre slashed the seed prices and imposed a 70% cut in royalties for Monsanto's technology, the American company said it would have to reevaluate its business in India. In a statement last month, the MNC said it was difficult to bring in new technologies in an "environment where such arbitrary and innovation-stifling government interventions make it impossible to recoup research and development investments ..."
Junior Agriculture Minister Sanjeev Kumar Balyan told Reuters the government was trying to rectify what he called past mistakes that allowed a foreign company to dictate seed prices and stifled local crop research. The American company controls more than 90% of cotton seed supply in the country, and is being investigated for allegedly overpricing its products.
"We're not scared if Monsanto leaves the country, because our team of scientists are working to develop [an] indigenous variety of [GM] seeds," Balyan said. The company had moved court against the government's decision to fix a uniform price for cotton seeds. However, the Delhi High Court rejected its plea in February, reported the Economic Times. An official notification to the effect was circulated on March 8.