Vol. XLIII No. 20 May 19, 2019
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AIKS, CITU Call for Boycott of Lays, PepsiCo Products

THE All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has asked the central government to intervene immediately to protect the potato farmers in Gujarat. The Kisan Sabha has called upon the people to boycott consumption of Lays chips manufactured by PepsiCo Company. The AIKS has stated that it will step up its efforts and initiative to ensure that the cases registered by the PepsiCo company against the kisans are withdrawn immediately.

The PepsiCo has registered cases in Ahmedabad court against nine small farmers of Gujarat state, demanding a sum of Rs 1.05 crore from them. The company has alleged infringement of its intellectual property right (IPR) of a potato variety named FL 2027, also called FC5, which allegedly was cultivated and produced without company’s approval. The company claims its exclusive rights on the variety, by virtue of a plant variety certificate (PVC) under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001.

The Kisan Sabha has outrightly rejected this contention. It has stated that this action of the company is in contravention to the aforesaid act. The issue is about farmers and their biodiversity. The Indian farmers cannot be intimidated by MNCs who have been introducing genetically modified (GM) seeds to their fields. They have been altering the biodiversity of the region; for the kisans it is important that they are able to retain their right to own their natural biodiversity. The Kisan Sabha has stated that the PPV&FR act categorically mentions that “the farmer has the right to save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety so long as he does not sell branded seeds.”

The AIKS has demanded immediate withdrawal of cases against the farmers and an apology from PepsiCo company, from the peasants of India.

In the meanwhile, the AIKS along with other peasant organisations has already approached PPV&FR authority asking for urgent intervention. This is a test case of the corporate exploitation of farmers under the WTO regime. This also proves how the Left peasant organisations were prudent in opposing the WTO guided intellectual property rights especially in the agriculture sector. There were consistent struggles and movements led by these organisations since the Dunkel draft, which later became the WTO proposals. Both the Congress and the BJP were in tandem in criticizing the Left and other progressive groups, who were opposing these proposals. Now, this case registered by the PepsiCo against the farmers, unfortunately substantiates the credence of the understanding of the Left. At this juncture both the Congress and the BJP must explain their positions to the farmers; whether they stand with the corporates or the farmers.

The AIKS along with other peasant organisations and trade unions will mobilise the working people of the country to defeat the pro-corporate, neoliberal policies of the successive governments.  The future of the country will be determined through the growing resistance of the working class and peasantry against these corporates who are bent to pass on the legitimate rights of the farmers and the people to big business.

The AIKS has also give a call to the people of the country to boycott 'Lays' and other potato products of PepsiCo till the cases against farmers are withdrawn.   


 

THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), on April 26, expressed its solidarity to the call given by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) to boycott Lays and other products of the PepsiCo till the cases against potato farmers of Gujarat are withdrawn.

The PepsiCo has filed a case in Ahmedabad High Court against a few small potato farmers of Gujarat alleging cultivation of a particular variety of potato which the MNC considers prejudicial to their interest and lodged a claim of Rs 1.05 crore from the farmers for such cultivation.

The CITU said that the case filed by PepsiCo is an arrogant violation of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act 2001. The Act mentions the right of the farmers to ‘save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety, so long as he does not sell branded seed’ as argued by the AIKS.

The AIKS in its statement given on April 25 asserted, “AlKS, along with other peasant organisations, has approached the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPV&FRA) asking for an urgent intervention. This is a test case of the corporate exploitation of farmers under the WTO regime. Previous central governments led by both Congress(I) and BJP are responsible for completely surrendering the rights of the peasantry and the nation in favour of corporates. Both the parties must clarify their stand in this case.”

The CITU, while joining the farmers’ organisations in denouncing the ‘vindictive action of the multinational corporations like PepsiCo’, has called upon the working class to stand firmly by the farmers demands in solidarity. It said that the company has abrogated the farmers’ right to produce and choose what to produce in an independent country and has indulged in patent abuse of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. It also said that the attitude of the Modi government towards the MNCs exploiting the Indian farmers is lukewarm and indulgent.

The CITU said that it upholds the AIKS call to people for boycotting the Lays potato chips and other potato products of PepsiCo and called upon the working class and their trade unions to actively organise such boycott throughout the country in coordination and collaboration with AIKS activists till the central government intervenes and compels the PepsiCo to withdraw the case against the potato farmers of Gujarat.