By Dr. Edgar Krieger - CIOPORA Secretary General On 3 December the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Authority PPV&FRA revoked the Plant Breeders Right of the PEPSICO owned variety FL-2027. The variety is used for the production of Lays chips. Circa 12,000 farmers have been granted the right to grow the potato in India for this purpose.
Credit: Lars Blankers from Unsplash.com
In 2019, PEPSICO filed lawsuits against nine farmers who had propagated and grown the potato without a license. Soon thereafter Pepsico withdrew the lawsuits after massive pressure from NGOs, farmers, and politicians.
A claim for revocation was filed by the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, who accused PEPSICO of intimidation and harassment of the nine farmers, claiming that farmers´ rights in India would supersede all other rights provided by the law.
The decision of the Indian PPV&FR Authority to revoke the right was based on the findings of the authority that PEPSICO had no right to apply for the variety in India, as it was neither the breeder nor had the right properly assigned to it. Missing stamps and wrong signatures played a major role in the case. The full decision can be read here:
India continues to be a challenging territory for breeders and the protection of their Intellectual Property. The farmers' rights play a crucial role in the Indian PPV&FR Act. They apply even to vegetatively propagated varieties, which entirely devaluates the exclusive right of the breeders of such varieties. In a seminar in Dehli in February 2018, I put forward some solutions for this situation - the so-called “Different rules for different crops”. Unfortunately, the suggestions have been taken up by lawmakers. CIOPORA will continue to work for the improvement of the Plant Variety Protection in India.