The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Authority has revoked the PVP (Plant Variety Protection) certificate for potato varieties (FL-2027) from PepsiCo India Holding (PIH) for a variety of reasons.
- The issuance of the registration certificate was based on incorrect information provided by the applicant.
- The certificate was issued to an unqualified person.
- Issuing a registration certificate was not in the public interest.
- In 2019, PepsiCo sued some Indian farmers in Gujarat for farming the FC5 potato type, which encloses a lower moistness range needed to make snacks such as potato chips
- Removing the cases the same year, the New York-based company said it wanted to settle the issue amicably.
- Later, Kavitha Kuruganti, a farmers' rights activist, petitioned the PPVFR Authority for revocation of intellectual protection granted to PepsiCo's FC5 potato variety, saying that India's rules do not allow a patent on seed varieties.
Please note that Section 39 of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001 says explicitly that a farmer can produce and market any product or even source as long as they don't sell branded seed of registered varieties.
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001:
It was enacted by India in 2001, adopting the sui generis system. It complies with the UPOV (International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants) on protecting new varieties of plants in 1978.
The law recognizes contributions to plant breeding by commercial plant breeders and farmers and provides for TRIPs to be implemented as follows:
Fits the specific socio-economic interests of all stakeholders, including private, public and research sectors and farmers with limited resources.
Purpose of the PPV & FR Act 2001:
- To create an effective system to protect the rights of plant varieties, farmers and plant breeders and promote the growth of new plant assortments.
- Recognizing and protecting farmers' rights regarding their contribution to the conservation, improvement and provision of plant genetic resources to develop new plant varieties.
- Protect the rights of plant growers to accelerate the country's agricultural development.
- Encourage investment in research and development in the public and private sectors to develop new plant varieties.
- It promotes the growth of the domestic seed industry and makes high-quality seeds and planting materials available to farmers.
Laws and Rights:
Farmers' Rights: The farmer has the exclusive right to produce, sell, sell, distribute, import or export protected varieties. Farmers can appoint agents/licensees and file civil suits in an infringement.
Researcher Rights: Researchers may conduct experiments using varieties registered under the law. This includes using one variety as the first variety source to develop another, but repeated use requires the prior consent of a registered breeder.
- Farmers who develop new varieties have the right to register and protect in the same way as farmers of varieties.
- Farmer varieties can also be registered as existing varieties.
- Farmers store, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share, or sell agricultural products containing seeds of varieties protected by the PPV & FR Act of 2001 in the same manner as permitted before entry.
- The effect of this law is that farmers are not entitled to sell branded seeds of varieties protected under the PPV & FR Act of 2001 if he is permitted to do so.
- Farmers have the right to be aware and rewarded for protecting the genetic resources of plants from native and wild relatives of crops.
- There is also a requirement for recompense to farmers for non-compliance with varieties under Article 39 (2) of the 2001 Act.
- Farmers do not have to pay legal fees in proceedings in government agencies, registration agencies, courts and high courts.