Prelims level : Economics Mains level : GS-III Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
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  • Farmers face demand for ₹1.05 crore in damages for growing Lays variety, want government to step in


  • Multi-billion-dollar conglomerate PepsiCo sued four Gujarati farmers, asking them to pay ₹1.05 crore each as damages for ‘infringing its rights’ by growing the potato variety used in its Lays chips, farmers groups have launched a campaign calling for government intervention.
  • Warning that the case could set a precedent for other crops, farmers groups are pointing out that the law allows them to grow and sell any variety of crop or even seed as long as they don’t sell branded seed of registered varieties.
  • The farmers want the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) to make a submission in court on their behalf and fund legal costs through the National Gene Fund.
  • These farmers are small, holding around 3-4 acres on an average, and had grown a potato crop from farm-saved seed after they accessed the potato seed locally in 2018,” according to a letter sent to the PPV&FRA by farmers groups. They alleged that PepsiCo hired a private detective agency to pose as potential buyers and take secret video footage, and collect samples from farmers’ fields without disclosing its real intent.

Protective clause

  • PepsiCo has invoked Section 64 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights
  • (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 to claim infringement of its rights.
  • However, farmers groups cite Section 39 of the same Act, which specifically says that a farmer is allowed “to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act” so long as he does not sell “branded seed”. Farmers groups warned that the case could have a snowballing effect on other crops. “These are among the first cases of alleged IPR infringement against farmers in India in a post-WTO world.

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights

  • The basic objective of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPVFR) Act 2001 us to recognize and protect the rights of the breeders including farmers and stimulate investment for research and development in the public and private sector for the development of new plant varieties.
  • The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001 not only gives intellectual property protection to the plant breeders, but also upholds the legal space for farmers to save, use, exchange and sell the farm saved seeds
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