The ongoing conflict between the Indian government and Monsanto, the service provider of Bt Cotton Technology, over the Bt cotton price control issue, has taken a new turn, with Competition Commission of India (CCI) ordering a detailed probe against the global agricultural giant found violating competition law in the market of Bt cotton technology in India.
Six out of seven members of the CCI panel has recommended a detailed probe against Mahyco Monsanto Biotech India (MMBL), Monsanto Holdings Private Limited (MHPL), Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) accusing the firms of practising anti-competitive agreements and abusing their dominant position in the country’s Bt cotton seeds market.
In response, MMBL said, “It is not a reflection of any final conclusions.”
The order was a prima facie decision to inquire into the issue in a detailed manner. Furthermore, MMBL adds, “We are evaluating the order and our options in respect thereof. MMBL conducts business in an honest, transparent and respectful manner, and it remains confident this will be evident after all relevant information has been considered by the CCI.”
The move has come after Union Agricultural Ministry, along with three three other Indian companies — Nuziveedu Seeds, Prabhat Agri Biotech and Pravardhan Seeds, filed a complaint with CCI to look into the monopolistic practices of MMBL.
MMBL is a 50:50 joint venture formed between MHPL and Mahyco and lends out licence of Bt Cotton technology of Monsanto in India.
The issue cropped up last year when the Union Agricultural Ministry urged the Centre to intervene in the Bt Cotton price control, in response to which the Centre issued a notification to bring Bt cotton under the seeds price control order.
MMBL moved Delhi High Court, seeking a stay on the price control order issued by the Centre, but the High Court refused to stay the order, giving a further date for the hearing. Meanwhile, the Centre also set up a nine-member committee to look into the matter.