Number one global seed supplier Monsanto Co has withdrawn an application for approval of its next generation of GM cotton seed in India, in a continuing row with the government over royalties and technology sharing, Reuters reported on 25 August.

A Monsanto spokesman said the withdrawal was "an outcome of the uncertainty in the business and regulatory environment" but the move had "no impact on our current cotton portfolio being sold in India", the report said.

A letter sent on 5 July by Monsanto's local partner in India, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co Ltd (Mahyco), had objected to a government proposal to force Monsanto to share its technology with local seed companies.

Mahyco wrote that the proposal "alarmed us and raised serious concerns about the protection of intellectual property rights" and asked the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to return data submitted by it as part of its application for Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex technology.

Reuters said that the government had temporarily withdrawn its order and was seeking and evaluating feedback from stakeholders.

Monsanto is also in dispute with India over a proposal to impose a 70% cut in royalties that local firms pay for its GM cotton seeds (see Biotech News, OFI May 2016).

According to Reuters, India is Monsanto’s second largest market outside the Americas, bringing in royalties of 6.5bn Indian rupees (US$97M).

India first allowed GM cotton cultivation in 2002 by approving Monsanto's single gene Bollgard I technology. Bollgard II was approved in 2006, turning the country into the world's top cotton producer and second-largest exporter, Reuters said.

Mahyco said it would seek to revive the application for Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex "at a suitable time", the report said.