GM seed maker Monsanto has been barred from claiming patents on its genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in India. The US seeds company is not eligible to claim patents and charge royalties from Indian seed companies. Monsanto India says the court order is disappointing and it will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India and that is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished.
Monsanto has been involved in a long-running battle in India over royalties paid by local seed companies for its GM cotton. In 2016, India cut Monsanto’s royalties by more than 70 per cent, triggering a long-running feud that drew in India and the US.
Farmers buy GM cotton seeds from Indian seed makers who pay to use Monsanto's proprietary technology to produce them. In March, India cut royalties paid to Monsanto for its GM cotton for the second time in two years, potentially fuelling another row with the US-based company that threatened to leave India in 2016.
More than 90 per cent of India’s cotton crop is genetically modified. Monsanto has been at loggerheads with seed firms and authorities in India over how much it can charge for its GM cotton seeds, costing it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue a year. Monsanto says some companies in India owe it millions in royalty payments.