Major international seed companies formed an alliance on Friday to oppose a proposal by India that would force them to share their genetically modified crop technology with local players.
Executives from the India businesses of Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta, which have formed the alliance, said seed prices should be set by the market rather than by regulation.
The show of solidarity comes after Monsanto, which pioneered the use of GM cotton in India, pulled an application for its next-generation product from the approvals process on concerns over the security of its intellectual property.
An executive from Bayer India said nobody would invest in research if the proposed introduction of compulsory licensing--which would force a company to share its intellectual property if the government so orders--is implemented.
India does not yet allow GM food crops, whose introduction could help reduce heavy import bills for items like edible oils that it needs to feed its huge and growing population. A domestically developed GM mustard product is, however, inching its way through the approvals process.
But political and public opposition to lab-altered food remains strong amid fears that GM crops could compromise food safety and biodiversity.