An alliance of seed and agriculture technology companies, including major global players, has welcomed Tuesday’s Supreme Court verdict regarding Monsanto’s patent claim as a victory for research and innovation in agriculture.
However, the company which had challenged the claim, Hyderabad-based Nuziveedu Seeds, insists that the Supreme Court has not actually adjudicated on the validity of the patent.
“The Supreme Court has restored the order of the Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court which prima facie validates our patent and has sent it back for a full trial by evidence considering the complexities involved,” said a spokesperson of Bayer, the global giant whose crop science division acquired Monsanto last year.
Bayer and Monsanto are founding members of the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII), an association “driven by the fundamental value of respecting research and intellectual property of each other.”
“The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s verdict validates that patents are integral to innovation and reinforces our faith in the Indian judiciary and the Indian patent system,” said FSII chairman M. Ramasami. “While we await the detailed order for complete understanding, this seems to be a pro-farmer and pro-technology ruling that will have a long-term and positive impact on Indian agriculture.”
He added that the ruling would encourage technology developers to invest more money into bringing new technologies to market, and would encourage the development of new seed technologies, agri processes and technology platforms that will benefit Indian farmers and the competitiveness of India’s farm economy.
However, Nuziveedu Seeds, which claims to be the country’s largest seller of Bt cotton seeds, insisted that the apex court had said nothing about the validity of the patent. “The Supreme Court did not say the patent is valid. It only said that the matter requires trial and evidence and remanded the matter to the single judge,” company secretary N. Murali Krishna told The Hindu.
He added that the ruling would make no difference to the pricing of Bt Cotton seeds, or the royalties paid to Monsanto, which is now determined by a government pricing committee. “We will continue to pay dividend in accordance with the government policy only,” he said.
Agriculture Ministry officials on the pricing committee also refused to comment on the SC ruling’s impact on the price of seeds or the trait fees to be paid to Monsanto, the technology provider. “We are yet to study the ruling,” said an official.