Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Monsanto Loses Appeal in India

The Supreme Court of India, New Delhi, has rejected an appeal by Monsanto against an order by the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC). The Supreme Court upheld the order for Mahyco-Monsanto (Monsanto's division in India) to reduce the price of GM Bt Cotton seeds.

Last month, as reported in The Hindu, the MRTPC granted an injunction against Mahyco-Monsanto, ordering it to charge no more than 750 rupees for 45o g of cotton seeds, after the Andhra Pradesh government, supported by some of the Indian seed companies, argued before the Commission that 900 rupees was an unreasonable price and as such a "restrictive trade practice," where prices are fixed and the monopoly is cartel-like in operation. In fact, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, a sub-licensee, was prevented from selling the seed at 800 rupees, and was forced to sell the 450 g packets for more than double, at 1818 rupees.
The MRTPC described the prices as "exhorbitant" and ordered Mahyco-Monsanto to fix a reasonable trait value as charged by the parent company, Monsanto, in China.

The Supreme Court decided to hear the petition of the Monsanto against the order, which included, among others, grounds that the MRTPC neglected to stay proceedings while a petition by an NGO was pending before the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The decision
has been described as a victory against the "tight grip" of Monsanto on seed prices, while others, such as the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education (FBAE) see it not in terms of the very real problem of anti-competitive conduct, but rather, problematically dismiss the concerns as "anti-technology."

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