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A government panel on genetically modified Bt cotton has recommended a steep reduction in royalty fees payable to technology companies, and lower seed prices.
If accepted, the recommendations will benefit nearly 8 million cotton farmers in India, but may raise concerns about how India views its intellectual property rights regime. They will deal a blow to technology providers such as Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd (MMBL).
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Further, the committee has suggested a 70% drop in royalty fees that domestic seed companies pay to providers of the patented genetically modified technology.
The panel has suggested a reduction in trait fees from Rs.163 per packet to Rs.49 per packet, a person aware of the development said, requesting anonymity.
The decision was taken at a meeting held on [March 2], the person added.
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The recommendations of the committee have been sent for the agriculture minister’s approval and a final decision will be taken soon, the person cited above said.
The committee suggested the steep reduction in royalty as the Bollgard II technology’s ability to resist pest attacks has weakened over the years. . . .
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. . . [A]n MMBL spokesperson said, adding that “it is also important to note that the trait fees at current levels only constitute 1-2% of farmers’ cost of cultivation and are also the lowest in the world”.
The centre’s approach seems to be ham-handed, and the government should respect contracts between companies and on patented technologies, said Avinash Kishore, a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, Delhi.
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