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PepsiCo Vs Potato Farmers Case – Protecting Seed Sovereignty

PepsiCo, a multi-million dollar conglomerate, has sued Gujarati farmers asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each for alleged violation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).

The company claimed that farmers violated its patent rights by cultivating the potato variety used in its chips product named Lays.

However, after facing boycott calls by potato farmers and the government’s pressure, PepsiCo has offered to withdraw the case if the farmers stop growing the registered potato variety used in its Lays chips.

This issue highlights the importance of seed sovereignty and the role played by the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 in protecting the rights of the farmers and prevent seed monopoly.

This article explains the following in an analytical manner with a mindmap for quick revision:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. What is PepsiCo’s perspective?
  3. What is the farmers’ perspective?
  4. What is contract farming?
  5. What is seed sovereignty?
  6. What are the salient features of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001?
  7. Why is the PPV&FR Act significant?
  8. What is the way forward?

Blue Revolution in India and its Importance

This year, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu had inaugurated the fifth edition of the Aqua Aquaria India in Hyderabad. The theme for this year’s event is – ‘Taking Blue Revolution to India’s Hinterland’. Blue Revolution is one of the major schemes by the Indian government to promote fishing as an allied activity for the farmers. It is the term used to describe the fast-paced growth of the aquaculture industry in India. Fish is a major source of income for the marginalised section of society. However, its potential is not seen at the ground level. The government must undertake all possible measures to promote the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of the country as it can be an essential tool to help lift the marginalised societies from the shackles of social and economic constraints.

GM Crops in India – Pros & Cons

Under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, growing GM crops that are not approved by the government can result in a five-year jail term and a hefty ₹1 lakh fine. Yet a Haryana farmer had grown a genetically modified (GM) variant of brinjal which is banned under the law that has landed him in controversy and the officials had forced him to uproot the crop.

There are two arguments regarding GM crops – one is “its potential in terms of increased crop yields & shelf life in the context of climate change events” and the other one is the “concern regarding its reliability and impacts on the environment and human health”.

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