Monsanto lobbies with US lawmakers over regulation of GM products in India

WASHINGTON/ NEW DELHI: Global seeds giant Monsanto has been lobbying with US lawmakers for their support to protect its interest as it faces roadblocks in India over sale of its genetically modified products,

uttara@tribuneindia.com

Washington/New Delhi, August 28

Global seeds giant Monsanto has been lobbying with US lawmakers for their support to protect its interest as it faces roadblocks in India over sale of its genetically modified products,

The company's registered lobbyist Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld said recently that the firm has received more than $150,000 (Rs 1 crore) from Monsanto since the last quarter of 2015 for lobbying for "issues relating to the regulation of biotechnology products in India", among other things.

The firm says it has lobbied for the company in the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the Department of State, the Department of Commerce and the US Trade Representative (USTR) for issues related to India during the second quarter of 2016.

Its latest disclosure report for Monsanto for the quarter that ended on June 30 also showed that the "income relating to lobbying activities for this reporting period" was $50,000.

Records showed similar amounts for two previous quarters — January-March period of 2016 and October-December period of 2015.

Although lobbying is legal in the US subject to detailed disclosure about the issues and offices covered and the money spent, Walmart’s lobbying with American lawmakers on retail FDI in India had kicked a row.

Monsanto's lobbyists have also disclosed having lobbied on a few other issues in these quarters, including issues relating to US regulatory approval of agricultural products and those relating to biotech approvals in China and also the Defend Trade Secrets Act of the US.

The disclosure shows Monsanto had been lobbying in India between 2007 and 2010 — either directly or through registered lobbyists — but it was not specifically aimed at GM products.

Monsanto said the lobbying firm helped present the company's perspective on a variety of domestic US and international subjects

"Like other companies and organisations in the US, Monsanto undertakes efforts to participate constructively in the policy making processes and provide our input for legislation and policy decision making," a company spokesperson said.

Monsanto has been facing problems on multiple fronts in India, including anti-trust investigations ordered by the Competition Commission of India. It is also facing opposition from local seeds companies, farmer bodies and also by certain sections associated with the ruling BJP.

The central government has decided to conduct a public consultation on recommendations made by a committee on bio-safety aspects of commercial cultivation of genetically modifies crops after there was opposition. PTI

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