New Delhi: India is likely to cut royalties paid to Monsanto Co. by domestic companies for its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds again, by 20%, industry and government people in the know said.
The move risks another row with the US company, the world’s biggest seed maker, which threatened to leave India in 2016 when the government cut its royalties by more than 70%.
This time, the government plans to reduce royalties by 20.4% to compensate Indian seed makers as the government also plans to cut prices of GM cotton seeds to help farmers whose fields have been ravaged by pest attacks, the people said.
The government will finalise its decision soon, they said but gave no precise timeframe.
A Monsanto spokesman said he wasn’t aware of any such government order.
It is expected to lower the prices of GM cotton seeds by 7.5% to Rs740 ($11) for a packet of 450 grams, according to the industry and government people familiar with the matter who did not wish to be identified.
Farmers buy GM cotton seeds from Indian seedmakers who pay to use Monsanto’s proprietary technology to produce them.
More than 90% of India’s cotton crop is genetically modified. Last year the government kept both the royalties and the retail prices of GM cotton seeds unchanged.
In 2017-18 India’s cotton output is set to rise 9.3% but won’t be the record high predicted by industry analysts because boll worm caused damage in some regions.
New Delhi approved the first GM cotton seed trait 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.