PepsiCo to withdraw lawsuit against Guj potato farmers

Food and beverages giant PepsiCo India on Thursday said it will withdraw its lawsuit against four Gujarat potato farmers accused of infringing its patent.

"After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers," a PepsiCo India spokesman said.

PepsiCo in April sued four farmers for cultivating a potato variety grown exclusively for its popular Lay's potato chips.

The company's decision to sue farmers for allegedly growing a variety of the tuber for which it claims plant variety protection (PVP) rights, had led to a public outcry.

In a statement, PepsiCo India said it has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers after discussion with the government.

"We are relying on the said discussions to find a long term and an amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection," it said.

It filed cases against nine farmers from Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts in Gujarat for allegedly growing a variety of potatoes for which the company has claimed PVP rights and sought damages ranging from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore.

"The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices," the statement said.

Altogether 11 farmers of Gujarat have been sued by the company till now. Two other farmers of Banaskantha district were sued earlier by the company on similar grounds. 

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