Monsanto withdraws application for next-gen GM cotton

25 Aug 2016


Biotechnology major Monsanto today said it has withdrawn its application seeking approval for the next generation genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India because of regulatory uncertainties.

The US firm withdrew an application seeking environment clearance for commercial cultivation of 'Bollgard-II Roundup Ready Flex technology' on 6 July.  

"Our decision to suspend this introduction in India is an outcome of the uncertainty in the business and regulatory environment, which includes the regulation of trait fees and introduction of the draft compulsory licensing guidelines," Monsanto Spokesperson said in a statement.

This decision has no impact on Monsanto's current cotton portfolio being sold in India, it said.

In March, Monsanto had warned of re-evaluating its presence in India and holding back new technology if the government cuts trait fee of Bt cotton seeds drastically through "arbitrary and potentially destructive" interventions.

But the government went ahead and capped royalty for the new GM traits at 10 per cent of the maximum sale price of BT cotton seeds for the first five years (See: India further tightens norms for Bt cotton seed pricing).

In May, the government withdrew a notification capping royalty for new genetically modified (GM) traits amid opposition from the crop biotech industry (Relief to Monsanto as India delays royalty cap on GM cotton seed).

Monsanto sells cotton seed in India via Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL), a joint venture with Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds. MMBL has sub-licensed Bt cotton seed technology since 2002 to various domestic seed companies.

Monsanto, however, said it is committed to Indian agriculture and plans to continue bringing innovative research in corn seeds, vegetable seeds and crop protection chemistries.

"We plan to continue bringing innovative research in our businesses in corn seeds, vegetable seeds and crop protection chemistries, enabling farmers by providing high quality seeds and solutions as they make their planting decisions," the company said.

Monsanto claimed that its Bollgard cotton technologies have transformed India from a net importer in 2002 to becoming the second largest producer of cotton globally.

The technology has helped farmers increase cotton yields from 302 kg per hectare lint in 2002-03 to 552 kg per hectare lint in 2013-14, thereby generating additional farm income, it added.

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