Monsanto is threatening to leave India after being issued a show cause notice by the government, asking why its patent on Bollgard-II should not be revoked due to technology failure – but some experts say India has nothing to lose by the company's departure
EXCERPT: [Times of India] also spoke to experts and found that actually Monsanto may be threatening to leave India but there is not much that Monsanto has on its plate to offer India right now for pest management.
Nothing to lose if Monsanto withdraws, claims CICR
Times of India, Mar 8, 2016
Monsanto is threatening to leave India after being issued a show cause notice on March 3 by the government of India, asking why its patent on Bollgard-II should not be revoked due to failure of its technology in protecting cotton against pink boll worm. However, several experts claim that India stands to lose nothing by the company's departure.
Monsanto obtained a patent on Bollgard-II claiming that the two-gene technology would control the three cotton bollworms, pink, American, and spotted. But city-based Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) recently found that Bollgard-II had become less effective.
CICR director Keshav Kranthi said the institute had been monitoring the bollworm attack over several years across the country and the damage by pink bollworm has been severe this year in Gujarat, Karnataka, AP and parts of Maharashtra.
Kranthi confirmed that the pink bollworm has developed resistance to Bollgard-II, and the technology has become less effective against bollworms progressively over the years.
CICR has developed insect resistance management strategies to effectively combat the bollworm problem in 2016 and issued advisories to all concerned state governments.
TOI also spoke to experts and found that actually Monsanto may be threatening to leave India but there is not much that Monsanto has on its plate to offer India right now for pest management.
It is working on Bollgard-III, but reports indicate that it is not a promising prospect against the pink bollworm and American bollworm. Moreover, Bollgard-III is still 5-6 years away and, hence, if India weighs the pros and cons of the issue at present it has nothing to lose at all if Monsanto withdraws from India.
While ex-VC of PDKV Sharad Nimbalkar confirmed Monsanto threatened to quit, experts said there are four options in front of Monsanto[…] none of which are too worrisome for India.
Other companies like Bayer Crop Sciences Ltd, and Dow Agro Sciences in India are ready with their new Bt-cotton varieties to break the monopoly of Monsanto.
Bayer already conducted certain field trials on 'Twin-link' using Cry1Aa + Cry 2Ae and a gene for herbicide tolerance. Dow is working on "Wide strike", which contains Cry 1Ac + Cry1F genes. Swarnabharat Biotech, Hyderabad, is also ready with Bt-cotton containing Cry1EC + Cry1Ac genes developed by NBRI Lucknow. These and others can try their hand at giving something new to Indian agriculture.
CD Mayee, chairman Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board, however, strongly believes that government should not interfere in such issues. "When we are allowing industries in every sector to come to India why not in agriculture. I feel that new technologies should always been given a trial. Also, since government cannot invest as much as Monsanto in research, it should wait till we have our own technology."
Mahyco MD Raju Barwale didn't respond to attempts by TOI to reach him. TOI also could not reach officials in the Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Limited, which has been served the notice last Thursday.