Gujarat potato farmers seek apology from PepsiCo after it withdraws case

Updated on May 10, 2019 10:19 PM IST

On Friday, PepsiCo withdrew Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement legal suits against four of the Gujarat potato farmers in the Commercial Court of Ahmedabad and five farmers in the district court of Modasa (Sabarkantha).

As food and beverage giant PepsiCo India withdrew all cases against the Gujarat farmers over potato seeds sowing rights, the farmers are now demanding compensation and apology from the multinational company.(AFP)
As food and beverage giant PepsiCo India withdrew all cases against the Gujarat farmers over potato seeds sowing rights, the farmers are now demanding compensation and apology from the multinational company.(AFP)
Ahmedabad | By

As food and beverage giant PepsiCo India withdrew all cases against the Gujarat farmers over potato seeds sowing rights, the farmers are now demanding compensation and apology from the multinational company.

On Friday, PepsiCo withdrew Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement legal suits against four of the Gujarat potato farmers in the Commercial Court of Ahmedabad and five farmers in the district court of Modasa (Sabarkantha).

“To safeguard the larger interest of farmers, PepsiCo India was compelled to take judicial recourse to protect its registered variety. PepsiCo from the very start had also offered an amicable settlement to farmers. After discussions with the Government, the Company has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers. We are relying on the said discussions to find a long term and an amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection. The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices,” said PepsiCo in statement released to media.

The company faced public anger and global embarrassment for suing the farmers with 1 crore lawsuit for allegedly growing the FL2027 or FC5 variety of potatoes, on which the PepsiCo claimed exclusive rights under the PPV&FR Act, 2001. The variety is used for the company’s popular Lay’s chips.

“These farmers are into subsistence farming and not commercial farming. All the cases have been withdrawn against the farmers of Sabarkantha, Aravalli and Banaskantha. With it, an ill-conceived initiative of PepsiCo to threaten farmers with litigation and row with them has come to an end,” said farmers’ counsel Anand Yagnik in a media statement.

The farmers’ rights groups and civil society representatives mounted their attack on the US-headquartered food and beverages player with a call for a boycott of PepsiCo products.

Kapil Shah, convener of Beej Adhikar Manch, said: “This in no way means that the public campaign is over. While the defendant farmers at least have the profit-hungry MNC off their backs in the court, the battle is only half won on the field.

The government had maintained an ominous silence on the legal situation in the country on farmers’ seed freedoms, taking the cover of the matter being sub-judice. Now it must make it amply clear that such litigation is not acceptable.”

The sued farmers are demanding an apology and will be sending a legal notice for compensation from the company for the harassment they were subjected to, Yagnik said.

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