Three Indian cotton seed makers have settled an intellectual property dispute with multinational agrochemical company Monsanto Co over its genetically modified seed technology, Reuters reported.
Ajeet Seeds, Kaveri Seed Co Ltd and Ankur Seeds were among six Indian companies that delayed payments to Monsanto, demanding a cut in the royalties they paid to the United States firm to licence its technology.
“The arbitration proceedings with each of these (three) companies have concluded by way of consent orders,” Monsanto India’s Chief Executive Officer Shilpa Divekar Nirula wrote in a letter to India’s agriculture minister last month, Reuters reported. A ministry spokesperson, however, said he was not aware of the letter.
The dispute sparked a series of government actions that prompted the world’s biggest seed company to withdraw from some businesses in India, one of the most important seed markets, Reuters said in a special report earlier this year.
Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India), a joint venture between Monsanto and local firm Mahyco, licenses a gene that produces its own pesticide to more than 45 local cotton seed companies in lieu of royalties and an upfront payment. Acting on complaints by some local seed companies that Mahyco’s royalties were too high, the farm ministry last year cut the fees local firms paid to Monsanto.
Since then, Monsanto has been at loggerheads with the seed firms and India’s government over how much it can charge for its GM cotton seeds, costing it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue a year.
India had approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform the country into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the cotton.