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Bayer's Monsanto, India's NSL settle long-running GM cotton seed dispute

FILE PHOTO: A farmer picks cotton on a farm on the outskirts of Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA/File Photo (REUTERS)Premium
FILE PHOTO: A farmer picks cotton on a farm on the outskirts of Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region November 3, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA/File Photo (REUTERS)

  • Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) (MMB), a joint venture between Monsanto and India's Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco) had been at loggerheads with the NSL and the Indian government over how much it could charge for its genetically modified cotton seeds

Bayer AG said on Friday it had reached an "amicable settlement" in its Monsanto unit's long-running intellectual property dispute with Indian seed maker Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) over genetically modified cotton seeds.

In a statement to Reuters, the German company said it had resolved "outstanding issues and differences" over the dispute, giving no further details. Two sources familiar with the matter said the companies had reached a legal settlement that would end all ongoing litigation.

NSL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) (MMB), a joint venture between Monsanto and India's Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co (Mahyco) had been at loggerheads with the NSL and the Indian government over how much it could charge for its genetically modified cotton seeds.

The dispute triggered a clutch of legal cases, antitrust investigations and orders against Monsanto from the farm ministry, costing Monsanto tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue each year and eventually drawing in the Indian and U.S. governments.

One of the sources with direct knowledge said the companies had been in talks for more than a month, and that the settlement efforts were being handled by Bayer.

"It was a very big dispute ... This will be relief for both," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Bayer spokesman said the company looked forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders for the benefit of Indian agriculture, but did not elaborate.

New Delhi approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform India into the world's top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre. Monsanto's GM cotton seed technology went on to dominate 90% of India's cotton acreage.

NSL, which produces GM cotton seeds, stopped paying royalties to Monsanto in 2015, arguing that Indian law did not grant Monsanto patent protection for the seeds. The companies have been entangled in litigation ever since.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Peter Graff)

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