Skip to main content

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.
The Indian subsidiary of the US MNC, namely PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) Pvt Ltd has filed cases of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) infringement through 2018-19 against farmers whom it claims are using its potato variety FL 2027/FC5 without permission.
Releasing the letter in Ahmedabad, senior farmer rights activists and leaders Ambubhai Patel of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), Badribhai Joshi of the Gujarat Khedut Samaj, Kapil Shah of the Jatan Trust, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch, and Vinay Mahajan of Loknaad demanded that the Government of India and the Gujarat government should step in “immediately to protect farmers’ rights as already enshrined in relevant laws of the country, particularly the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.”
While Sagar Rabari warned of “dire consequences” if PepsiCo did not withdraw the case against the farmers, answering questions, Kapil Shah said, though they had come to know about PepsiCo’s law suit on April 15 through a media report, they did not protest against the MNC because they did not want to interfere in Gujarat state assembly elections. “We are non-political, and did not want to be misunderstood”, Shah added. “Besides, we had to make preparations on the issue.”
Belonging to the Sangh Parivar, BKS’ Ambubhai Patel said they had written a letter to the Gujarat government “protesting against the move” on April 20, three days before the polls took place in the state. However, the BKS decided not to make public the letter for “political reasons.”
From information gathered so far by the farmers’ leaders, at least nine cases have been filed by PepsiCo India against potato farmers of Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Arvalli districts, and some of these cases date back to 2018. These are amongst the first cases of alleged IPR infringement against farmers in India in a post-World Trade Organization (WTO) world.
The letter demands “immediate intervention” from Union agriculture minister Radhamohan Singh, Union minister of state for agriculture Purushotham Rupala, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and state agriculture minister RC Faldu.

Text of the letter:

This is to bring to your urgent notice our serious concerns and facts around legal suits that are going against farmers on the matter of plant varietal rights.
These are being filed by PepsiCo, a US multinational company against potato farmers in Gujarat, with regard to alleged infringement of its rights under PPV&FR Act, 2001. For us, this is a matter of concern with regard to this set of farmers who have been sued and intimidated, as well as others who could be similarly bullied by seed and food corporations through vexatious litigation in the assertion of plant breeder rights.
We are aware of at least 9 farmers, belonging to Sabarkantha and Aravalli districts of Gujarat having been sued by this MNC’s Indian subsidiary, which is PepsiCo India Holdings (PIH) Pvt Ltd. A crucial next hearing is coming up on April 26, 2019 at the Commercial Court in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, after an ex-parte interim injunction order has been passed against the farmers, upon the company making a case for “irreparable losses”.
The cases are specifically with regard to a particular potato variety with a denomination of FL-2027, reportedly known as FC-5 potato, for which the company claims to have obtained exclusive PVP rights in India in 2016 (valid till 2031) from the Authority. PIH is making out infringement cases with its own interpretation of Section 64 of the PPV&FR Act.
As per the information that we have gathered so far, these farmers are small farmers 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. At this point of time, it is not clear if the farmers were aware of what they had grown and even if they did, that is immaterial when it comes to the statutory rights that they have, as we show later in this letter.
PepsiCo apparently got a tip-off that the farmers were growing “its registered variety” of FL-2027 and in a completely unacceptable manner, hired a private detective agency to pose as potential buyers in front of the sued farmers, to take secret video footage and collect samples from farmers’ fields sans disclosing its real intent. 
Later on, PepsiCo India Holdings got the samples tested in its own laboratory and also sent the same to ICAR-CPRI, Shimla and got reports confirming that the varieties being grown by the farmers are indeed FL-2027 or FC-5.
Armed with this information, and presenting an estimated damage of more than one crore rupees against each farmer, the MNC filed legal suits against 4 farmers in early April 2019 (and we came to know later on that similar cases were filed against 5 other farmers in another district in Gujarat last year and there could be more) and PIH even obtained injunction orders from the Court.
Everything about this entire operation is in fact against the law, and it is not the farmers who are violating the law, but the company. The PPV&FR Act has always been projected as a law to protect farmers’ rights. The protection ought not be tied to only when farmers register their varieties with the Authority.
As you know, the Protection of Plant Varieties & Farmers Rights Act was enacted in India as a sui generis framework at the national level, after India had signed on to the WTO TRIPS in 1995.
As is well known, the PPV&FR Act 2001 has upheld the apriori rights of farmers of the country, by explicitly stating under Section 39 (1) (iv) the following:
“Chapter VI
Farmers’ Rights: Sec. 39 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act
(iv) a farmer shall be deemed to be entitled to save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under this Act in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into the force of this Act, provided that the farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under this Act.”

It is important to note and underscore the importance of this qualifying statement, which says “notwithstanding anything contained in this Act” which means that this clause is more important than clauses that provided exclusive rights to a registrant, and also that farmers are entitled to apriori rights and practices by virtue of the line on “(protection) in the same manner as he was entitled to, before the coming into the force of this Act”. Both these indicate that farmers’ rights are squarely upheld by this Act and are non-compromisable.
Further, even the caveat around sale of “branded seed” of a registered variety which is protected under the Act is with regard to sale of SEED, that too in a branded fashion, which in the current case of Gujarat farmers is not even applicable.
The legislative intent to safeguard farmers must be upheld through a harmonious reading of sections 28, 39 and 64. There is also Section 42 which deals with protection in the case of innocent infringement that can be operationalised and made real.
We believe that the intimidation and legal harassment of farmers is happening because farmers are not fully aware of the rights contained in this statute. Also, in all PVCs granted to non-farmers, there has been no reiteration of such non-negotiable rights of farmers vis-à-vis the breeders. Plant Breeders Rights granted in India are meant to be unique and different from those granted anywhere else due to the farmers’ rights orientation and provisions of the law.
It is in this context that we urge the PPV&FR Authority, which as per Section 8(1) of the Act has the duty to protect the rights of farmers, to immediately take up the following:
  1. Put out a public statement, which should also be made a Submission to the Commercial Court and High Court in Ahmedabad where the farmers are being sued, explaining the farmers’ rights as enshrined in the PPV&FR Act 2001;
  2. Write to PepsiCo India Holdings, asking it to withdraw its false and untenable cases against the farmers; 
  3. Provide from the National Gene Fund the costs of legal suits that the farmers are having to face, until the time that the cases are withdrawn by PepsiCo; 
  4. Mention on all Certificates of Registration, in the same manner as Section 47 (on compulsory licensing) is mentioned, Section 39 and other relevant sections too. 
  5. Issue a notification that no company can trespass into a farmer’s field without due intimation of the local district agriculture office and the farmer’s prior informed consent. 
We also recognise that farmers rights under the Act can be upheld better and bio-piracy prevented if Section 8 (c) of PPV&FR Act 2001 is operationalised fully in letter and spirit.
---
Click HERE for list of signatories and other details

Comments

Someone said…
Monsanto Pepsi are threatening local farmers through lobbying & geoengineering, cutting water supply and stopping rains by geoengineering (spraying chemicals in air by airplanes and more)
India despite massive local agri population is importing massive amounts of cancer causing glyphosate lased food items thanks to Monsanto. The same company is behind control of food and water through geoengineering.

I read somewhere that big accounting firms now have started bankrupting nations.

I believe scams across industries are developed in order to curb competitors and inhibit their activities, could be to give more power to few prefered competitors across industries and monopolise powers, just like banking and IT industries & entertainment industries are doing across the world.
This could be for depopulation, new world order, total control.
Farmers are threatened as geoengineering will suppress normal farm supply and force people to adopt cancer causing GMOs. Geoengineering is deliberately causing high wind and rains to destroy existing farmlands. It threatens everyone and all life forms, several insects have already died as this is the 6th mass extinction while media is spreading propaganda blaming it on vehicular pollution and other things and not geoengineering.
Someone said…
Geoengineering is deliberately causing rains on few days and drought and most other days, damaging crops , government is importing food and GMOs despite massive indian farmer population, water shortage, geoengineering & lower yield than MSP is putting pressure on farmers, are farm products taxed in percentage terms much more than unhealthy food items? Why are road , fuel and other form of taxes putting pressure on farmers making 2Rs per kg produce?

Are cyclones, geoengineered rain to destroy crops, earthquake tsunami caused by geoengineers? Who is behind everyday wildfires globally?

Farmers are losing lives and income thanks to geoengineering and water curbs, why is Pepsico and Cola not losing revenue and incurring losses by geoengineering blocking rainfall?
Are they emptying ground water?

Are we moving towards oxygen less society? Are elite planning to put dome in every city and concentrate and control people inside it, making rest of the outer world toxic?


Thanks to Geoengineering and Monsanto . Onion, groundnut and many more food items are destroyed by below MSP , geoengineering and other factors. Onion farmer gets 1-2 Rs per kg, is there a nexus between government and monsanto through lobbying to destroy domestic farmers and make India rely on food imports?

Why is India importing more toxic GMOs despite massive farmer population?
If onion farmer gets 1-2 Rs per kg and fuel , road and other forms of taxes along with middlemen comission make it so expensive, is onion fruits and vegetables taxed much more than other unhealthy food items ?

Are cyclones, surprise rain to destroy crops , earthquake, tsunami created by geoengineering?
Are we moving towards oxygen less society? Are elite planning to put dome in every city and concentrate and control people inside it, making rest of the outer world toxic?

TRENDING

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk “Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

Youngest of 16 activists jailed for sedition, Mahesh Raut 'fought' mining on tribal land

By Surabhi Agarwal, Sandeep Pandey* A compassionate human being, always popular among his friends and colleagues because of his friendly nature and human sensitivity, 33-year-old Mahesh Raut, champion of the democratic rights of the marginalised Adivasi people of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra, has been in prison for over two years now.

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative  One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

Human development index: India performs worse than G-20 developing countries

By Rajiv Shah A new book, “Sustainable Development in India: A Comparison with the G-20”, authored by Dr Keshab Chandra Mandal, has regretted that though India’s GDP has doubled over the last one decade, its human development indicators are worse than not just developed countries of the Group of 20 countries but also developing countries who its members.

Stan Swamy vs Arnab Goswami: Are activists fighting a losing battle? Whither justice?

By Fr Sunil Macwan SJ* It is time one raised pertinent questions over the courts denying bail to Fr Stan Swamy, who was arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), and granting it to Arnab Goswami, editor-in-chief of the Republic TV, arrested under the charge of abetting suicide of Avay Naik, who ended his life in 2018. It is travesty of justice that a human rights activist is not only denied bail but is also made to wait for weeks to hear a response to his legitimate request for a straw to drink water, while Arnab Goswami walks free.

India among heavily impacted by Covid-19, China 'notoriously' evading transparency

By NS Venkataraman* With the year 2020 inevitably ending in the next few weeks, the thought amongst the people all over the world is whether the coming year 2021 will be free of Covid-19 (often dubbed as Wuhan virus, as it known to have spread from Wuhan in China).In the early 2020, many people thought that Covid-19 would be a localized affair in China but later on, it proved to be a global pandemic.

Namaz in Mathura temple: Haridwar, Ayodhya monks seek Faisal Khan's release

By Our Representative As many as 23 members of the Hindu Voices for Peace (HVP), including the founder president of the well-known Haridwar-based Matri Sadan Ashram, Swami Shivananda Saraswati, and a one of its top monks, Brahmachari Aatmabodhanand, have expressed their “dismay” over the arrest of Khudai Khidmatdar chief Faisal Khan and three others on charges of “promoting enmity between religions” and “defiling a place of worship” after they offered namaz in Mathura’s Nand Baba temple premises on October 29.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Government of India 'refuses' to admit: 52% of bird species show declining trend

Finn's Weaver  By Our Representative The Government of India has been pushing out “misleading” data on the country’s drastic wildlife decline, says a well-researched report, pointing towards how top ministers are hiding data on biodiversity losses, even as obfuscating its own data. It quotes “State of India’s Birds Report 2020” to note that of the 261 out of 867 bird species for which long-term trends could be determined, 52% have declined since the year 2000, with 22% declining strongly.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.