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India announces launch of Asia biotech meeting / Monsanto goes to Supreme Court to defend its prices (31/8/2006)

1.Monsanto goes to Supreme Court to defend its prices
2.Indian Farm Suicides Rise as Costs Fuel Debt Despair
3.India announces launch of Asia biotech meeting

EXCERPTS (with GM Watch headings):

*CALL ME UP IN DREAMLAND

"Most of Asia is largely an agricultural community so agricultural biotechnology is necessary for food security" - India's Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal (item 3)

*LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE BANK

More than 18,000 farmers may kill themselves this year, the most ever recorded... The deaths show the plight of India's farmers, whose destitution is overshadowed by the country's booming software and pharmaceutical industries...

Genetically modified seeds also are pushing costs beyond farmers' means...

[Monsanto's] fiscal third-quarter net income soared sevenfold to $334 million.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, cotton farmer Chandrabhan Gurnule burned himself to death over a 105,000-rupee debt. Dasru Goma, 50, a cotton and lentil farmer, hanged himself over the 33,998 rupees he owed. And Rajendra Patil's widow, Rekha, said she's struggling to make ends meet

'Some days, we sleep without having a meal,' she said. (item 2)

*SCREWING INDIA'S FARMERS THROUGH THE FLOOR

Monsanto, the US-based seed multinational, and Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), the Indian joint venture, do not seem to be giving up on the issue of pricing of Bt cotton seeds... In April this year, the MMB suffered a major setback when the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) directed the company to charge "reasonable prices" for Bt cotton seeds.

The MMB has recently marginally reduced its "technology fee" from Rs 900 to Rs 880, having no major impact on the prices. (item 1)
---

1.MMB moves SC over Bt cotton pricing
The firm complains against TN and Karnataka's directive not to charge more than Rs 750
ASHOK B SHARMA
Financial Express, August 31 2006
http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=138935

NEW DELHI, AUG 30: Monsanto, the US-based seed multinational, and Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), the Indian joint venture, do not seem to be giving up on the issue of pricing of Bt cotton seeds. The MMB has moved the Supreme Court against the directions of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka state governments not to charge more than Rs 750 per 450 gram of Bt cotton seeds.

Following the suit from Andhra Pradesh state government, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka had directed the MMB and its licencees not to charge more than Rs 750 per pack of 450 gram of Bt cotton seeds.

The two separate petitions filed by the MMB against the two state governments was referred to a bench headed by Justice AR Lakshamanan, which is hearing the appeal filed by the company against the MRTPC order.

The bench had upheld the Andhra Pradesh government's directive that the MMB should not sell Bt cotton seeds more than the price fixed by it.

The MMB in its fresh petitions has said that the state governments do not have the power to fix prices of seeds.

Pricey Issues

* Mahyco Monsanto in its fresh petitions said that the state govts do not have power to fix prices of seeds

* Following a suit filed by the AP state govt, the two states had asked the firm 'not to charge more than Rs 750/ pack of 450 gm of Bt cotton seeds'

* In April this year, the MRTPC had directed the firm to charge "reasonable prices" for Bt cotton seeds

In April this year, the MMB suffered a major setback when the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) directed the company to charge "reasonable prices" for Bt cotton seeds.

The commission noted that royalty charged by the parent company, Monsanto for Bt cotton seeds in China was lower. Subsequently the prices of seeds were lower. In India Bt cotton seeds carry a "technology fee" in lieu of royalty, which has increased the prices of the seeds.

The MMB has recently marginally reduced its "technology fee" from Rs 900 to Rs 880, having no major impact on the prices. The Bt cotton seeds sold by the company and its licencees are in the range of Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,300 per 450 gram pack.
---

2.Indian Farm Suicides Rise as Costs Fuel Debt Despair (Update3)
Pratik Parija Bloomberg, August 30 2006 [excerpts]
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=a3hgblXJ.LUU&refer=asia

Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The number of suicides among India's 235 million farmers is rising as seed and pesticide costs increase and the rural economy provides few other job opportunities. More than 18,000 farmers may kill themselves this year, the most ever recorded by the government, said Devinder Sharma, chairman of the farm lobby group Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security

The deaths show the plight of India's farmers, whose destitution is overshadowed by the country's booming software and pharmaceutical industries. About 27 percent of Indias rural population, or almost 200 million people, live below the poverty line, according to the Ministry of Agriculture

'This is economic desperation,' said M.S. Swaminathan, the architect of India's Green Revolution, a project in the late 1960s to import high-yielding wheat seed. 'Agriculture is becoming a gamble both in the monsoon and the market. '

Genetically modified seeds also are pushing costs beyond farmers' means, said Biotechnology Forum's Sharma. The seeds don't regenerate, preventing farmers from using a part of their harvest to sow the following year's crop -- a practice they have followed for centuries.

St. Louis-based Monsanto Co., the world's biggest developer of genetically modified crops, was ordered to cut technology fees on cotton seeds by India's Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission in May

The company charges 880 rupees per 450 grams (1 pound) in India. In China, it charges the equivalent of 100 rupees for the same seeds, said a spokesman at Monsanto's China unit, who gave only his family name, Meng

Monsanto has appealed the commission ruling in India's Supreme Court, according to the Business Standard newspaper. Monsanto spokeswoman Camille Gonsalves in Mumbai declined to comment on the case. The company's fiscal third-quarter net income soared sevenfold to $334 million.

Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, cotton farmer Chandrabhan Gurnule burned himself to death over a 105,000-rupee debt. Dasru Goma, 50, a cotton and lentil farmer, hanged himself over the 33,998 rupees he owed. And Rajendra Patil's widow, Rekha, said she's struggling to make ends meet

'Some days, we sleep without having a meal,' she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Pratik Parija in New Delhi at pparija@bloomberg.net
---

3.India announces launch of Asia biotech meeting  
The Hindu, August 30, 2006
http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/008200608301110.htm

KUALA LUMPUR - Noting that the biotechnology industry in Asia is still at a nascent stage, India has announced the launch of an annual 'Asia Biotech' meet, bringing together scientists and biotechnology experts who will focus mostly on the needs of the people of the region.

"Most of Asia is largely an agricultural community so agricultural biotechnology is necessary for food security," Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal said adding that the experts would also focus on health security.

The launching of the annual meeting was announced by Sibal at the fourth Asean informal ministerial meeting on Science and Technology, held at Kuatan in Pahang state.

The meet is modelled on the lines of the 'Biotechnology Conference' held annually in the United States. Next year's meeting will be held at Boston.

The Asia Biotech conference will be held in rotation across Asean plus six nations viz China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. The first conference will be held at New Delhi in November 2007.

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