Ag minister says "high risk of disaster" for Bt cotton growers (13/1/2006)


Raghuveera writes against Monsanto
Tells six States about complaint in MRTP Commission, says action is in interest of ryots [peasant farmers]
Special Correspondent
The Hindu, 12 January 2005


Agriculture Minister N. Raghuveera Reddy has urged six States, including Tamil Nadu, to take action against Mahyco Monsanto Biotech India Ltd and others on the lines of Andhra Pradesh against the high prices charged by these companies.

In separate letters to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Agriculture Ministers of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, Mr. Reddy recalled the complaint filed by the State Governments with the MRTP Commission challenging the high trait cost charged by the company. In the letters, the Minister said that the action taken by Andhra Pradesh had been welcomed by the well-known agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, who complimented the State Government for taking the lead in the matter. Mr. Reddy, who said the stand taken by the Government was "in the interest of farmers", sought the support of the States as it would go a long way to further strengthen "our resolve to get justice for the common farmer."

Cotton ryots at risk

The letters accused the company with "exploiting" the hybrid cottonseed growers and Bt cottonseed producers charging Rs. 1,850 for a packet of 450 gm of seed which included the trait cost of Rs. 1,250 being charged by the donor of the technology.

Besides imposing restrictive practices of not allowing sub-licencees to transmit the technology to others and enhancing the trait value by reflexing the sale value every year as per their (the company's) "whims and fancies", the cotton farmers were at "high risk of disaster".

He said there was "discrimination" in charging trait value in the US and India which is Rs. 108 and Rs. 1,250 respectively for the seed weighing 450 gm.


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