Monsanto loses legal battle over GM cotton patents; firm's false claim exposed, says National Seed Association head

New Delhi: A court ruled on Wednesday that Monsanto cannot claim patents on its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India, the Indian company that brought the case said.

Citing a law that excludes seeds from being patented, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd (NSL) argued that the US seeds company was not eligible to claim patents and charge royalties from Indian seed companies.

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court agreed with NSL, ruling that India’s Patent Act does not allow Monsanto any patent cover for its GM cotton seeds, said Narne Murali Krishna, a company secretary for NSL.

A Monsanto India spokesman said the company was “very disappointed” with the court order.

Monsanto logo. Reuters

Monsanto logo. Reuters

“Today’s order will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India, and is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished,” the spokesman said in a statement.

Monsanto’s “false claim has got exposed today,” Kalyan Goswami, director general of the National Seed Association of India, said in a statement.

Late last year, NSL said it would not settle a long-standing intellectual property dispute with Monsanto over genetically modified cotton, despite some other Indian companies doing so.

Monsanto has been involved in a long-running battle in India over royalties paid by local seed companies for its GM cotton.

In 2016, the country's farm ministry cut Monsanto’s royalties by more than 70 percent, triggering a long-running feud that drew in the Indian and US governments.

In March, India cut the royalties paid to Monsanto for its GM cotton for the second time in two years, potentially fuelling another row with the U.S. company that threatened to leave India in 2016.

More than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified.

Updated Date: Apr 12, 2018 09:15 AM

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