India: Andhra Govt files contempt charges against Monsanto Print E-mail

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Tuesday June 27, 2006

A.P. Government files contempt petition before MRTPC against Monsanto

J. Venkatesan

`Company deliberately ignored order on trait value'

`Many complaints by farmers against seed suppliers, including Monsanto'

`Even after apex court order, company fixed value of Bt cottonseed at Rs. 880 per unit of 450 grams' State contends this exhibited Monsanto's "callousness and utter disregard to Commission's order"

NEW DELHI: The Andhra Pradesh Government on Monday filed a contempt petition before the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) against Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) for not obeying the order directing the company not to charge trait value of Rs. 900 per pack of 450 grams of Bt. Cotton seed.

Meetings held
In its petition, the A.P. Government said that the company had deliberately ignored the order passed on May 11 and withheld the stocks and failed to supply the seed even after the onset of the monsoon.

There were large number of complaints from farmers' organisations and farmers about the attitude of seed suppliers including Monsanto about withholding of stocks in the market.

The State Government convened meetings with seed producers on May 25 and 27 about their market plans and asked them not to charge trait value beyond Rs. 750 per 450 grams.

The petition said that after the Supreme Court on May 30 declined to stay the Commission's order, the company fixed the value of the Bt cottonseed at Rs. 880 per unit of 450 grams contrary to the direction to the company to fix a reasonable trait value on the lines of China.

`Not reasonable'
The State Government contended that by no stretch of imagination the reduction of Rs. 20 from the earlier trait value of Rs. 900 could be said to be a compliance of the order or fixing a reasonable trait value.

Monsanto's contention
The company had justified the price fixation of Rs. 880 stating that the trait value in China was Rs. 1,200 for eight kg of seed used for sowing one acre.

It had contended that the trait value charged in India per acre was less than the price charged in China.

The act of the company in fixing the price at Rs. 880 exhibited its callousness and utter disregard to the Commission's order.

Hearing on July 6
Hence the present petition seeking a direction to initiate contempt proceedings against the company and its officials, the petition said.

It will come up for hearing on July 6.

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Tuesday June 27, 2006

Monsanto sued for contempt

New Delhi, Jun 26:  The State government on Monday filed a contempt petition against the Indian subsidiary of US-biotech major Monsanto for violating the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission’s (MRTPC) diktat to reduce the price of Bt cotton seeds on par with China.

Monsanto operates in India through its wholly-owned subsidiary Mahyco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL). “MMBL has failed to obey the directions of the commission and is liable for contempt of the court,” the State government said in its petition filed in MRTPC. The State government also appealed to the commission to ensure compliance of its directives by the US seed company. MMBL has claimed that it has complied with the MRTPC directive by reducing the price of its 450 gm Bt cotton seed packet from Rs 900 to Rs 880.

On bringing down the trait value or royalty to Chinese level, the seed company drew attention to difference in land productivity that exists between China and India. For example, a Chinese cotton grower requires eight kg of transgenic seeds to grow the same amount of yield as produced by his Indian counterpart with just 450 gm seeds.

The company contends that an Indian farmer needs much less amount seed per acre of land as against his Chinese counterpart. That trait value is benchmarked against productivity per acre, MMBL said and added the value turns out to be Rs 1,200 per eight kg for Chinese trasgenic cotton growers.