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Pepsi withdraws lawsuit against potato farmers alleging patent infringement

Pepsi had offered to drop the cases against the farmers, provided they join the contract farming program or grow some other variety of potato.

Global food and beverage major PapsiCo has withdrawn the lawsuit that the company had filed against potato farmers in India alleging infringement of patent.


Last month, PepsiCo had sued several potato farmers in India for cultivating a potato variety that is exclusively developed and grown for the company’s popular Lay’s potato chips. The company grows the FL-2027 variety of potato needed for its chips through contract farming, which is also known as FC5. Pepsi India had said that they had contracted with several hundred farmers to grow the special potato, but the particular farmers they were suing were not under the contract farmer agreement with the company.

Immediately after the news was published, it had become a PR disaster for the company, as it was seen as an example of a multinational company interfering in the rights of small farmers to grow a crop.  Farmer organisations and activists had launched massive protests against the company. After that, the company had offered to drop the cases against the farmers, provided they join the contract farming program or grow some other variety of potato.

“After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers,” a PepsiCo spokesperson said today in Delhi.

Frito Lays, the subsidiary of PepsiCo, is the global leader in the potato chips market, and it enjoys a leadership position in India too.

 

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