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'Monsanto shouldn’t be allowed to exploit farmers’: India vows to break up GM-cotton monopoly
India has vowed to protect farmers from exploitation and continue regulating the price of genetically modified cotton seeds in the country, looking to break down the monopoly of Monsanto – a US based agrochemical giant which controls 90 percent of the Indian market.
Monsanto is being pushed by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accept the dictated government price, as India expects to develop its own genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties early next year.
In a move to break away from a dependency on American technological know-how in the genetic seed market, India has cut royalties paid by local firms for Monsanto’s seeds by more than 70 percent. The government also capped GM cotton seed prices at 800 rupees ($11.90) for a packet of 400 grams, starting in April 2017.
Threatening to leave the Indian market after six decades and cut access to US technology, Monsanto has in response taken the issue to court. The giant has called the government-driven intervention to regulate the the market “arbitrary and potentially destructive”.
Speaking at a two-day conference in Delhi about kharif sowing season, Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh once again reaffirmed the government’s commitment to challenge 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,” Singh said as he tasked government officials to keep a careful watch on seed prices and monitor monopolistic activity.
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