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Indian seed companies end row with Monsanto

Three leading Indian cotton seed makers have settled an intellectual property dispute with Monsanto over its genetically modified (GM) seed technology. The companies are Ajeet Seeds, Kaveri Seed and Ankur Seeds. They were among six Indian companies that delayed payments to Monsanto, demanding a cut in royalties they paid to the US firm to license its technology. They say they have resolved their differences with Monsanto in the larger interest of Indian farmers and agriculture.

Monsanto has been at loggerheads with seed firms and with authorities in India over how much it can charge for its GM cotton seeds, costing it tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue a year. Monsanto says some companies in India owe it millions in royalty payments.

Monsanto is the world’s biggest seed company. Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, a joint venture between Monsanto and local firm Mahyco, licenses a gene that produces its own pesticide to more than 45 local cotton seed companies in lieu of royalties and an upfront payment.

New Delhi approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform India into the world’s top producer and the second largest exporter of the fiber.