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Govt to take call on Bt cotton issue after studying Delhi HC order

The government today said it will decide on next course of action over patent and royalty issue on Bt cotton seed after studying the recent Delhi High Court order that dismissed the US-based agri-biotech firm Monsanto’s plea to enforce patent for its genetically modified (GM) technology.
The Union Agriculture Ministry has already fixed the maximum sale price of BT cotton seeds along with royalty fee for 2018 kharif season.
“We will study the Delhi High Court order and will take a decision in a week’s time,” Agriculture Secretary S K Pattanayak told reporters, responding to a query about the ministry’s further course of action in light of the court judgement in a case between Monsanto and Nuziveedu Seeds.
“The case was between two private parties. We will abide by the court’s direction to the government,” he added.
For the 2018 kharif season, maximum sale price of BT cotton seed has been fixed at Rs 740 per packet of 450 grams, lower from Rs 800 per packet last year. The royalty fee or trait value to be paid by domestic seeds firms to technology developer Monsanto Mahyco Biotech (India) Ltd (MMBL) has been reduced to Rs 39 per packet from Rs 49.
From March 2016, the government started controlling prices of cotton seeds, including the GM versions, by fixing a uniform maximum sale price.
Last week, a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Yogesh Khanna in Delhi High Court had partially allowed the counter-claims of three Indian seed companies that Monsanto does not have a patent for its BT cotton seeds.
BT cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in the country. Over the last decade, Bt cotton technology has been adopted on over 95 per cent of the country’s cotton growing area, making India the second largest producer and exporter of the cash crop