Govt to continue regulating cotton seed prices: Agri Min

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New Delhi, Apr 11: Government will keep regulating cotton seed prices and will not allow companies like the US biotechnology major Monsanto to exploit farmers, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said today.

The Centre in December had issued an order to control cotton seed prices, including trait or royalty value, effective from 2016-17 crop year (July-June).

cotton plants

Last month, the government for the first time fixed a uniform price of Rs 800 per packet for Bt cotton seed including a small royalty of Rs 49 -- a move that will benefit farmers, but hit the Indian business of Monsanto.

"It (Monsanto) is a good company. We respect them but that does not mean you loot farmers and charge whatever price because you have knowledge. Be it seed or pharma, we will continue to regulate prices, whenever required," Singh said while addressing a two-day kharif conference here.

The trait value has been reduced by over 70 per cent for the season 2016-17 starting next month despite Monsanto's threat to quit the country.

The company had last month 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.

Mayhco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL), a joint venture firm of Monsanto, had challenged the government's seed control order in the Delhi High Court in December.

MMBL has sub-licenced Bt cotton seed technology since 2002 to various domestic seed companies. Farmers bought Bt cotton seeds in the price range of Rs 830-1,000 per packet (450 gram) across the country in 2015-16 season.

Meanwhile, fair trade regulator Competition Commission of India (CCI) has also launched a probe against MMBL for alleged abuse of market dominance after it received complaints from the industry as well as from the farmer wing of BJP.

PTI 

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