The Center has withdrawn the gazette notification of May 18 vide which it published and notified the licensing and formats for GM technology agreement guidelines, 2016. Said guidelines were published in order to provide an effective system for fixation of maximum sale price of cotton seeds to ensure their availability to the cotton farmers at uniform as well as fair, reasonable and affordable prices.
The guidelines, in particular, were aimed at ensuring access of GM traits to all seed companies without any restraint and at the same time at adequately rewarding bio-tech trait under the fair, reasonable and non-discriminative mechanism (FRAND mechanism).
The Central Government notification dated 8th March 2016 fixing of the trait value of BG-I and BG-II variety of Bt Cotton has been stayed by the Karnataka High Court.
Association Of Biotechnology along with Namdhari Seeds Pvt.Ltd. had filed a writ petition before the Karnataka High Court challenging the notification of March 8.The Petitioners contended that the Essential Commodities Act only empowers the Government to fix the maximum sale price of the commodity but does not allow it to fix price of the components within the sale price ,especially the license fee. The Court agreed with the Petitioners and granted a temporary stay.
Earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture had issued a price control order conferring the power on the Central Government to impose a maximum price on the sale of Bt cotton. It also vested in the Government the power to fix the trait value which biotechnology companies charge for the purpose of genetically modifying the cotton seeds produced by Indian seed manufacturers. Based on this order, the Ministry of Agriculture on March 8th had fixed the maximum sale price and trait values of BG-I and BG-II variety of Bt Cotton.
Amidst the ensuing legal dispute over Monsanto’s Bt Cotton seed technology, including an investigation into Monsanto’s licensing deals as per the order of the CCI and the High Court ordering an injunction against Nuziveedu from selling BT cotton manufactured after expiration of its licence agreement with Monsanto, the Central Government has now fixed the sale price of cotton seeds and trait value vide its notification dated 8th March, 2016.
The Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 confers to the Central Government the power to fix maximum sale price on cotton seeds. We are still awaiting the reaction it has invoked in the industry, particularly from the owner of the technology.
Visit this space again for a more exhaustive review.