The Foreign Investment Promotion Board has deferred a decision on a proposal by Monsanto India to pursue business in genetically engineered (GE) planting material.

Monsanto was granted the foreign collaboration approval in 2000, one of the conditions being that the company should not use any GE planting material for raising seeds.

Against this background, Monsanto had approached the FIPB last month seeking clarification and permission to undertake the business activity in the above mentioned area with approval from regulatory authorities, including the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) and the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM).

The FIPB, which clears all major foreign investment proposals in India, deliberated on Monsanto's proposal at a recent meeting but deferred a decision saying that it has to seek the views of the Department of Biotechnology and the Ministry of Envirnoment.

Monsanto informed FIPB that certain companies with foreign direct investment are also using GE planting material with prior permission of the local authorities.