Sep. 22, 2016
Monsanto, which has withdrawn a new technology for BT cotton, has decided to continue research in India on other genetically modified seeds and crop protection.
“We plan to continue research in corn seeds, vegetable seeds and crop protection," a Monsanto spokesperson said. Monsanto is the global leader in GM soybean and corn apart from cotton.
Monsanto in July notified the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) of the withdrawal of the dossier for its Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex technology, which was pending approval for commercial release.
"Our decision to suspend its introduction in India is an outcome of the uncertainty in the regulatory environment. This decision has no impact on our current cotton portfolio being sold in India," the Monsanto spokesperson said.
Monsanto had introduced Bt cotton in 2002 and 95 per cent of cotton farmers use it because yields are high. However, the government is trying to de-monopolise GM seeds and is promoting indigenous technology.
Early this month, the GEAC said an indigenously developed GM mustard variant was safe for human and animal consumption. Ramesh Chand, NITI Aayog member for agriculture, has favoured use of GM varieties in other crops and Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian has sought its use in pulses. Pod borer pest-resistant GM chana and arhar have been developed by Assam Agricultural University and ICRISAT, respectively.
Monsanto has failed in its legal challenge after the government lowered trait fees drastically and asked the company to license its technology to more seed companies. It has also lost a case in the Competition Commission of India, a final report on which is due in a month.