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PepsiCo withdraws lawsuit against four potato farmers, firm says will try to find 'long term and amicable resolution'

PepsiCo Inc said on Thursday it will withdraw its lawsuit against four Indian potato farmers accused of infringing its patent, a PepsiCo India spokesman said.

“After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers,” said the spokesman.

PepsiCo in April sued four Indian farmers for cultivating a potato variety — FC5 — grown exclusively for its popular Lay’s potato chips.

“ PepsiCo has been in India for the last 30 years. Over the years, the Company has developed a best in class collaborative potato farming program which has benefited thousands of farmers across the country. The program which included several market awareness initiatives has resulted in farmers getting access to higher yields, enhanced quality, training in best-in-class practices and better prices, all leading to improved livelihoods. To safeguard the larger interest of farmers, PepsiCo India was compelled to take judicial recourse to protect its registered variety. PepsiCo from the very start had also offered an amicable settlement to farmers. After discussions with the Government, the Company has agreed to withdraw cases against farmers. We are relying on the said discussions to find a long term and an amicable resolution of all issues around seed protection. The company remains deeply committed to the thousands of farmers we work with across the country and towards ensuring adoption of best farming practices,” PepsiCo India spokesperson said in a statement on Thursday.

 PepsiCo withdraws lawsuit against four potato farmers, firm says will try to find long term and amicable resolution

Representational image. Reuters

The snack food and drinks maker last week said it wants to “amicably settle” the issue.

New York-based company had said the four farmers had to either sell their potatoes to PepsiCo or stop cultivating the FC5 potato variety. In return, PepsiCo said it would withdraw the suit filed against the farmers.

The FC5 variety has a lower moisture content required to make snacks such as potato chips.

PepsiCo maintains that it developed the FC5 variety, which has a lower moisture content required to make snacks such as potato chips, and registered the trait in 2016.

In April, the company filed the lawsuit in a court in Ahmedabad, the business hub of Gujarat, requesting the court to retrain the four farmers from growing the FC5 variety. The court has asked the farmers not to use the variety until the next hearing scheduled for 12 June.

The court also appointed an officer to examine the issue.

With inputs from Reuters 

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Updated Date: May 02, 2019 19:01:30 IST