Monsanto refuses to go open source, leaves Indian cotton farmers in a lurch

Today, Reuters reports that Monsanto is refusing to sell its next-generation genetically modified cotton seeds to the Indian market. It is protesting new regulations by the Indian government that would require the company to share its technology with local seed companies.

Monsanto has also been quibbling with the government over how much it should charge for the seeds, since it has a monopoly over the industry.  As I described in a recent story about the state of the global cotton trade, 300,000 Indian cotton farmers have committed suicide over the last few years to escape debt.

Monsanto is the world’s largest seed maker and India is the company’s biggest market outside of the Americas. These new seeds help defend against weeds that might otherwise depress yields. 

Reuters explains that the previous iteration of the seed, launched in 2006, transformed India into the world’s top cotton producer. However, it should be noted that Monsanto also sells pesticides that are designed to be used in conjunction with its seeds. These chemicals are harmful to farmers and, when they enter the groundwater, they can lead to widespread pesticide poisoning. 

For more background, you can read, “The Truth About Your Cotton Bedsheets Will Give You Nightmares.”ES