Even as it announced a nation-wide uniform price for cottonseed for the upcoming kharif season, the Union government has asked Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited why it should not revoke the patent it granted for the Bollgard II technology.

The Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has served a show cause notice to the firm, which sub-licences the transgenic technology to the cottonseed companies in the country.

Show cause notice

The firm, a joint venture between Mahyco and Monsanto, received the licence from Monsanto to sell the technology under bilateral agreements to the seed firms.

The show-cause notice comes in the wake of criticism from the farmers’ unions, non-governmental organisations and seed companies that the pink bollworm had developed resistance to the technology and that the technology was ineffective in addressing the challenge.

They contend that if it is not effective to address the problem there is no need to pay royalty.

The department was acting on a letter from the Union Ministry of Agriculture dated March 3.

“The Minister has received a letter from Bharatiya Janata Party Kisan Morcha. They requested the Minister to stop collection of royalty on Bollgard II technology patent and revoke the patent as it lost efficacy to control pink bollworm,” the letter said.

Citing reports of Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) and Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage, the letter said that the resistance of the pest to BGII appeared to be fast accelerating.

“We have heard reports that the pest developed resistance in Saurashtra and adjoining areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh,” it said.

MMB response

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited has acknowledged the receipt of the notice from DIPP, which works under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. It, however, is yet to respond to the notice.

“We will respond to the same within the stipulated deadline,” an MMB spokesperson told BusinessLine in an e-mailed response.

“This show-cause notice comes against the backdrop of a bilateral commercial dispute where few licensees refused to honour their commitments to pay MMB over ₹450 crore after collecting these amounts from the cotton farmers in Kharif 2015,” he pointed out.

“MMB remains hopeful that with its intent to promote Make in India and commitment to improve ease of doing business, the government will encourage and continue to protect innovation, uphold fair business practices and provide predictability, which can benefit Indian farmers through access to relevant solutions,” he said.