Monsanto fails to get SC relief on seed row
ARUN S & ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express, June 06, 2006
NEW DELHI, JUNE 5: Dashing hopes of the biotechnology giant Monsanto, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the order of the Andhra Pradesh government which directed the US company not to charge over Rs 750 on 450 grams packet of its genetically modified Bt cotton seeds.
The Andhra Pradesh agricultural commissioner had on May 29 directed Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB) and its sub licencees not to price more than Rs 750 per pack of 450 gm genetically modified Bt cotton seeds. MMB is the Indian joint venture of the US multinational, Monsanto.
MMB had appealed to the apex court as it felt the state government's order was "illegal and arbitrary". The company also challenged the May 11 order of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC), which asked the company reduce its trait value (royalty) from Rs 900 per 450 gm pack to a reasonable level as charged by its parent company Monsanto in China. While the matter was pending before MRTP, MMB reduced its trait its trait value from Rs 1250 per 450 gm pack to Rs 900 per same pack.
However, the vacation bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice C K Thakker said they were "not inclined at this juncture" to interfere with the AP government's order. In a slight relief to the company, the bench said if it was found that the MRP was not adequately covered, the apex court or the MRTPC would decide as to who should cough up the additional amount which may be found due to the company.
The MMB managing director, MK Sharma, said : "Although we have yet to receive a copy of today's order, we are confident that the Supreme Court will ultimately give us a fair hearing in this matter." He said that a stay of the MRTP ruling is scheduled to be heard by the apex court during the first week of July with the merits of the appeal will be heard in last week of August.
The executive director of All India Crop Biotechnology Association, RK Sinha, said, "The apex court has exercised its prerogative in not granting a stay on AP government's order. But the matter is pending before the court for final decision. We would agree to whatever, the apex court finally decides."
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