Indian government cuts royalties and promotes indigenous cotton varieties

Monsanto’s decision not to ‘launch’ its new generation of pest-resistant cotton GM seeds is no loss to many cotton farmers as seed prices rise, GM plants are attacked by pests, leading to a decline in total production and yield per hectare over the past couple of years. In July the CICR’s figures were published on this website, showing that 45% less GM cotton was grown in India this season and that indigenous seeds and other food crops were being sown instead..

In 2015 nine Indian seed companies using the patented Bollgard gene refused to pay some $65m in royalties owed from seeds sold in the previous growing season. The Indian seed-makers, which sell about 60% of all cotton seeds in India, complained about the rising costs and state price controls on the seeds and could not afford the license fees for using Monsanto’s Bollgard gene.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration ordered a 70% cut in the company’s royalties from private Indian seed companies using its patented Bollgard gene technology and is now trying to promote indigenous cotton varieties as an alternative to Monsanto’s technology.

After the government announced the new royalty fee structure in April, slashing the fees Indian-seed makers pay Monsanto from 20% of the final seed price to just 6%, Monsanto scrapped plans to launch new and more effective pest-resistant GM cotton seeds in India.

Amy Kazmin in New Delhi reports that Monsanto on Thursday confirmed it had withdrawn its application to commercially launch its latest generation of genetically modified seeds already used use in Australia blaming “uncertainty in the business and regulatory environment”.

Intensification: a system first used in rice cultivation which is now being applied to a variety of crops

The principles of early and healthy plant establishment, reducing competition between plants, increased soil organic matter, active soil aeration and the careful application of water are raising productivity. The farmer does not have to buy seeds from outside and can reduce water usage to a minimum.

Though there is still pressure to allow the commercial cultivation of GM mustard, systems of mustard intensification are said to be showing better yields than GM mustard trials.

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