Monsanto appeals to India’s top court over GM cotton patents

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Monsanto Co has appealed to India’s Supreme Court against a ruling by the Delhi High Court which decreed last month that the world’s biggest seed maker cannot claim patents on its GM cotton seeds, a company spokesman said on Friday.

The Delhi High Court last month concurred with Indian seed company Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL), which argued that India’s Patent Act does not allow Monsanto any patent cover for its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds.

Monsanto has appealed to the Supreme Court, said a Monsanto India spokesman.

“In the Supreme Court, we’ll maintain our stand that agricultural products, including seeds, cannot be patented in India,” said Narne Murali Krishna, a company secretary for NSL. “The judgement of the Delhi High Court has already vindicated our stand.”

New Delhi approved Monsanto’s GM cotton seed trait, the only lab-altered crop allowed in India, in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform the country into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre.

Monsanto’s GM cotton seed technology went on to dominate 90 percent of India’s cotton acreage.

But for the past few years Monsanto has been at loggerheads with NSL, drawing in the Indian and U.S. governments, Reuters revealed last year. (reut.rs/2ncBknn)

The fate of the biotechnology industry rests on the decision of the Supreme Court, said Ram Kaundinya of the Federation of Seed Industries of India, an industry body formed by the local units of foreign companies such as Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta.

“The decision of the Delhi High Court has made biotechnology companies cagey about investing in their businesses because they apprehend that they will lose patents on their expensive technologies,” said Kaundinya.

After last month’s court ruling, nearly 107 patents could be deemed void, said Kaundinya.

Seed makers are now scaling down and shelving their research projects, said Paresh Verma, chief of research at Shriram BioSeed Genetics India Ltd.

“It’s a fluid situation and we’ve decided to reduce our research expenditure,” said M. Ramasami, chairman and managing director, Rasi Seeds.

Without the protection offered by the Patents Act, it is not clear how technology providers would be able to monetise their investments, said S. Nagarajan, managing director and chief executive of Metahelix Life Sciences Ltd.

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Comments

  • Isaac Langford

    I hope the court stand by the growers & not Monsanto They Monsanto & others
    breeders think they owned the world.

    • JoeFarmer

      Nonsense. If the Indian government isn’t going to grant intellectual property rights to commercial plant breeders and seed companies, they’re going to exit the market. Then farmers will be stuck with no new seed varieties, no plant breeding progress – they’ll be frozen in time while the rest of the world moves forward.

      How do you think that’s going to help growers? It’s not.

      • richard

        ……and neither do the subsidies that you are glued to in you GM delusions…. …

        • JoeFarmer

          What subsidies? Be specific.

          And what “delusions”? …

          • richard

            Yeah the half trillion annual global ag subsidy orgy…..and the delusion that somehow that’s sustainable…….

          • JoeFarmer

            It took you a month to come up with more non-specific claims? You’re wasting my time.

      • ed

        Actually it will help the producer to a great degree to get rid of gmo. Farm debt alway skyrockets when plant breeders rights get elevated. The price control over the seed strangle holds the farmer to the point that a large degree of them will go into receivership. For the bit of yield that it brings, it simply is not a paying situation. At times a rain dance would potentially be more benificial, even if just for the exercise. If there is any yield advantage the combined effect of that quickly drives the price of a commodity down. Less profit and more hand out required from the tax paying consumer. It is a no win for the farmer as he receive less and the consumer will actually pay more. Not too good unless you sell seed. Then it is damn good of coarse. Go figure that one and you will be awhile.

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