DownTownEarth reports that a legal battle over the right to grow the humble potato has caught global attention, after US snack and beverage giant PepsiCo sued a handful of farmers in Gujarat for cultivating a variety of potato that the multinational claims as its own. The American major uses the particular tuber in question for making Lay’s brand of chips.
The fight has all the elements of a classic David vesus Goliath battle. Pitted against the American behemoth, with revenues of over US $64 billion, are four small potato growers with minuscule farms in a country synonymous with acute agrarian distress.
PepsiCo has taken the farmers to court for infringing on its intellectual property right (IPR) by cultivating FL 2027, one of two potato varieties registered by the company in 2016, although it has been in commercial use since 2009. Registration confers an exclusive right on the breeder to produce, sell, market, distribute, import and export the said variety.
The pertinent question is who can grow what crops, as IPR has been invoked for the first time under a law governing the rights of breeders and farmers in India.