News List

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech disappointed with patent judgment

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited has said that it is very disappointed with the Delhi High Court order that turned down Monsanto India’s patent on Bt cotton technology. It said it will study the order and take a call on appealing against it in the Supreme Court.

By KV Kurmanath,

The Delhi High Court judgement on Monsanto’s Bt technology patent has ruffled feathers in one section of the cottonseed industry, while seed producers say their stand is vindicated.

The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) — the newly-formed organisation representing research based seed firms — felt that the judgement has far reaching implications even beyond the seed and agri bio-tech sector.

The National Seeds Association of India (NSAI), which represents the bulk of the cottonseed producers, welcomed the order. It said the order “balances the interest of every stakeholder”.

“This ruling has made it clear that Monsanto enjoys Intellectual Property Rights only under Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act. They can make claim for benefit share under this Act before the statutory PPVFR Authority,” NSAI Chairman M Prabhakara Rao said.

Appropriate trait value
The NSAI argued that developers of genetically modified traits could ask for appropriate trait value fixation based on the agronomic value conferred by such traits.

They can secure reasonable returns on their investments.

The High Court on April 11, 2018 dismissed Monsanto’s plea to enforce patent for its Bt cottonseeds.

It allowed the counter claims of three Indian seed companies, including Nuziveedu Seeds, and assigned the right to fix the trait value with the government.

Investments to be hit
“If the patent protection granted to a biotech trait under the Patent Act is superseded , why will organisations invest in inventing new traits,” Ram Koundinya, Founder-Member, FSII argued.

“We need to recognise that significant research investments are already made by several organisations in agri biotech. This judgement will severely restrict their ability to license their technologies and will hamper further investments in this sector,” he said.

He argued that several seed companies have already scaled down their research efforts due to the prevailing confusion.

MMBL ‘disappointed’
The judgement turned down Monsanto’s plea to enforce its patent on Bt tech and that pricing of trait value was its prerogative as it is giving value to the farmer. Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Limited, a joint venture through which Monsanto distributes technology to seed companies, said that it’s “very disappointed”.

It said it will study the order and take a call on appealing to the Supreme Court.

“Over the years MMB has conducted its business in adherence with all applicable laws in the country and all our patents were granted after due review under these laws,” an MMBL spokesperson said, reacting to the judgement.

“Over the years MMB has conducted its business in adherence with all applicable laws of India and all our patents were granted after due review under these laws. India has been issuing patents on manmade biotech products for more than 15 years as is done widely across the globe,” an MMBL spokesperson said, reacting on the Wednesday judgment.

The landmark judgment ended a prolonged row between the US agri-biotech major and seed companies in India over the issue of the patent over the plant material. The court also said that the seed companies will pay the trait value as ascertained by the Government.

“A proven combination of certainty and predictability in the business environment encourages innovation in agriculture and best serves the interests of India’s farmers. Today’s order will have wide-ranging, negative implications for biotech-based innovation across many sectors within India,” the spokesperson felt.

“This is inconsistent with other international markets where agricultural innovation has flourished. We await a copy of the order and upon review will go for an appeal in the Supreme Court,” he said.