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Monsanto to sell seed unit

Monsanto will sell its small branded cotton seed business to Tierra Agrotech but remains fully committed to India’s agriculture sector. The sale comes as Monsanto fights a former licensee in India in a bitter dispute while it is also the subject of a $66 billion takeover by Germany’s Bayer.

Monsanto is the world’s biggest seed producer. Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB), a joint venture with India’s Mahyco, will continue to sell genetically modified cotton seeds under license to more than 40 Indian seed companies. However, Monsanto Holdings, an MMB licensee which sells the company’s Bollgard I and Bollgard II seeds, will exit cotton and sell its branded seed to Tierra Agrotech.

Monsanto Holdings had only a small share of India’s cotton seed market and focuses largely on vegetable seeds such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Cotton output has jumped fourfold since India allowed MMB’s genetically modified variety in 2002, transforming the country into the world’s top producer and second largest exporter of the fiber. MMB’s lab-grown seeds yield nearly all of the cotton produced in India.

German-based Bayer plans to take over US seeds group Monsanto. The deal would create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company but would limit the number of competitors selling herbicides and seeds in Europe.