Though it is not fully clear why Monsanto sold its cotton seed business in India, a clutch of policies India has adopted would seem geared towards driving Monsanto out. The seed giant last year withdrew its application for approval of its Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex technology after the government tried to cap the royalty that licensee seed companies pay for using GM technology . Indeed, the government had to rescind its notification—trying to pass it off as a discussion paper—given PM Narendra Modi was to travel to the US. This had followed a move to cut GM seed prices, with the royalty component taking most of the hit. Based on complaints from Indian seed companies licensing Monsanto’s technology, the government asked the Competition Commission of India to probe so-called anti-competitive practices by the seed giant.
Developing new technology needs considerable R&D expenditure—Monsanto’s is higher than that of the government of India—and any artificial and protectionist curbs on royalty greatly undermine the ability to generate funds for this. With the adversarial treatment Monsanto has received in India, it is likely that it would not have stayed long given there aren’t any signs of this easing. Indeed, the central government told the Delhi High Court—which is hearing a dispute between Nuziveedu Seeds that licensed Monsanto technology and Monsanto—that the latter’s claim that it has a patent on Bt cotton seeds is a lie and its claim that its Bt gene has contributed to a rise in cotton productivity is exaggerated. While Monsanto will continue with some of its business in India, it is the Indian farmer’s loss that the company was dealt such a poor hand by the government.