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Pepsi to drop cases against Indian farmers accused of infringing potato patent

Pepsi to drop cases against Indian farmers accused of infringing potato patent
PepsiCo has vowed to withdraw its lawsuit against Indian potato farmers who the multinational giant accused of infringing its patent. The lawsuit was earlier slammed by advocacy groups.

“After discussions with the government, the company has agreed to withdraw the cases against the farmers,” PepsiCo India spokesman said on Thursday, as cited by Reuters. 

The statement added that the firm remains “deeply committed to the thousands of farmers” it works with in India and wants to ensure best farming practices.

Also on rt.com ‘Lay-off our spuds!’ PepsiCo slammed for suing Indian farmers over potatoes

In April the US-based snack and beverage corporation sued farmers in the state of Gujarat, saying they were growing special spuds, FC5, designed exclusively for its Lay’s chips. Pepsi sought about $140,000 from each allegedly infringing potato grower or about $1 million for all defendants combined.

The case was scheduled to be heard and to receive the final ruling on June 12 by a court in Ahmedabad.

The farmers gained massive support in their legal fight with the company. Locals and Indian advocacy groups were quick to accuse Pepsi of attempting to harass the small producers, with some even calling for its products to be boycotted.

“Other than coercing these farmers, PepsiCo is also intimidating and exploiting them. It is a clear case of a large MNC [multinational corporation] arm-twisting India’s poor farmers,” Ashwani Mahajan, who heads the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, earlier told Reuters. The movement is an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), believed to be the ideological parent of India’s ruling party.

Pepsi tried to settle the dispute out of court, suggesting they either stop planting the potato variety or sign a farming contract with the company. All the defendants rejected the settlement, saying they would not “bow to the pressure.”

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