Monsanto withdraws application for GM Cotton seeds in protest
Monsanto, the controversial seed manufacturing conglomerate peddling genetically modified seeds in India, has withdrawn its application pending before Government of India to introduce its next version of BT Cotton seeds in India.
Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co Ltd), Monsanto’s local partner in India has objected to the Government of India’s move to force seed companies to share their technology with the local seed companies and had written a letter seeking the unprecedented withdrawal of its application. It is to be noted that Monsanto had a monopoly on the Genetically modified (GM) seeds that it had introduced for cotton known as BT Cotton. It forced farmers to be totally dependent on Monsanto for seeds every year. The pricing of the seeds was decided by Monsanto and the farmers were totally at its mercy.
Monsanto was constantly at loggerheads with the Government regarding the pricing as well as sharing of technology with local companies. By withdrawing its application, Monsanto is trying to arm twist the Government of India. Monsanto spokesperson has said that the withdrawal of application is "an outcome of the uncertainty in the business and regulatory environment", but that the move had "no impact on our current cotton portfolio being sold in India". So it will clearly continue to sell the current BT Cotton seeds of which it sold 41 million packets and earned $97 million dollars last year. Monsanto said that it is likely to apply in future when the policies change. Clearly Monsanto expects that the Narendra Modi Government will bow and allow Monsanto to monopolise the farming and throttle the farmers of India.
There have been many protests in the past against Genetically Modified crops as it has been scientifically proved that the genes escape into the wild and is not environmentally good. It is also bad for the farmers as they are in the clutches of the MNC companies and their restrictive policies. There are many farmers who are committing suicide in India. In this years Union Budget the Government of India tried to make the budget farmer friendly as there are many State elections in the anvil and in 2019 the Lok Sabha elections will likely be heavily influenced by farmer and other pro-poor policies. If Monsanto has its ways, then other MNCs will also arm twist Government of India.
Will the Narendra Modi Government tolerate the audacity of Monsanto and bow before it? The last word on this is yet to be spoken.