MMB moves SC over Bt cotton pricing

New Delhi, Aug 30 | Updated: Aug 31 2006, 05:30am hrs
Monsanto, the US-based seed multinational, and Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), the Indian joint venture, do not seem to be giving up on the issue of pricing of Bt cotton seeds. The MMB has moved the Supreme Court against the directions of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state governments not to charge more than Rs 750 per 450 gram of Bt cotton seeds.

Following the suit from Andhra Pradesh state government, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had directed the MMB and its licencees not to charge more than Rs 750 per pack of 450 gram of Bt cotton seeds.

The two separate petitions filed by the MMB against the two state governments was referred to a bench headed by Justice AR Lakshamanan, which is hearing the appeal filed by the company against the MRTPC order.

The bench had upheld the Andhra Pradesh governments directive that the MMB should not sell Bt cotton seeds more than the price fixed by it.

The MMB in its fresh petitions has said that the state governments do not have the power to fix prices of seeds.

Pricey Issues

Mahyco Monsanto in its fresh petitions said that the state govts do not have power to fix prices of seeds
Following a suit filed by the AP state govt, the two states had asked the firm not to charge more than Rs 750/ pack of 450 gm of Bt cotton seeds'
In April this year, the MRTPC had directed the firm to charge reasonable prices for Bt cotton seeds

In April this year, the MMB suffered a major setback when the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) directed the company to charge reasonable prices for Bt cotton seeds.

The commission noted that royalty charged by the parent company, Monsanto for Bt cotton seeds in China was lower. Subsequently the prices of seeds were lower. In India Bt cotton seeds carry a technology fee in lieu of royalty, which has increased the prices of the seeds.

The MMB has recently marginally reduced its technology fee from Rs 900 to Rs 880, having no major impact on the prices. The Bt cotton seeds sold by the comapny and its licencees are in the range of Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,300 per 450 gram pack.