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Quartz has the story of how PepsiCo has sued four farmers in India, charging that they have infringed on its patent for its proprietary FC5 potatoes, “which are designed to be lower in moisture than other spuds,” and that are used for its Lays potato chip brand.

According to the story, “The giant has demanded10 million rupees, or about $142,000, from each allegedly infringing farmer. It’s a steep demand for the defendants, who all have small, independent farms in the state of Gujarat, a leading potato-production region.”

The farmers are fighting back, saying that they’ve been growing potatoes for a long time, usually using seeds from the previous year’s harvest - though they have not explained how they came to grow the FC5. They say that Pepsi stands in violation of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act of 2001, which “allows farmers to ‘save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety’ so long as they do not sell branded seed.”

The All India Farmers’ Forum (AIFF) has demanded that Pepsi immediately withdraw its lawsuits and “apologize to the peasants of India.”

Quartz says that PepsiCo has offered to drop the suit if the farmers stop growing the FC5. “The farmers’ lawyer asked for time to consider Pepsi’s join-us-or-perish offer, and the parties are expected to return to court on June 12.”
KC's View:
It is interesting to see news reports suggesting that even the folks at PepsiCo corporate realize that the whole anti-peasant thing isn’t a good look for them. They’d be well advised to make this thing go away as fast as possible.