Pepsi is suing four Indian farmers for growing a proprietary "Lays" potato, seeking $150,000 each in damages

One is someone taking some one else’s work with out renumeration… the other is food, the stuff we all need to survive. Food should not be a commodity.


It’s interesting that PepsiCo thinks that the value of the Lay’s chip is in the kind of potato they use. That’s the only reason a lawsuit like this makes any sense - they’re worried about people making knock-off chips using the potato they engineered.

I would think that as a chip that tastes mostly of salt and/or whatever flavor powder they’ve coated it with, that the real value would be in the brand and the access to supermarket shelves. The idea that they have specially engineered potatoes is kind of shocking to me - I assume they must be some kind of hearty flavorless breed that travels well and whose bland taste doesn’t conflict with the flavoring they coat them in.

I would like to know why the farmers are choosing to grow that particular kind of potato. These are small farms from the sound of it - why this kind of potato instead of one of the other many industrial varieties? Is it better suited to Indian farmland or something? The CNN Business report says that Pepsi has offered to settle if the farmers join their “authorized growers” program - which strikes me as Pepsi’s lawyers figuring out that under Indian law they have no case and so they’re trying to do damage mitigation to keep the potatoes in house.


I’m no expert but I think just efficient growing could be enough. They probably want a potato that tastes good but they probably also want hardiness to certain pests and or climate conditions more than anything because that would allow them to keep regular consistent production up. Because they grow from little clones potatoes can get wiped out by diseases more easily, so if there’s any kind of problem with potato crops one year having an advantage would matter a lot. What I don’t understand is the competitive thinking about solving a global climate/food shortage problem. Mindysan33 already said it though, I think deep down I just don’t think that food should be a commodity at all.


It takes a lot of work to breed plant cultivars. Both are taking someone else’s work without remuneration.


So the ‘logic’ here is… if the Indian farmers have nothing else to eat, they should starve rather than grow these specific potatoes to eat, because PepsiCo own the rights.


That’s a nice false choice fallacy you have there. There are plenty of available potato varieties that are not trademarked, patented, or copyrighted that could have been planted. Those varieties would also be less expensive and more readily available.


Farming is hard work, and feeding a family is hard work. We ALL do hard work to survive. Making one of the most fundamental things that we ALL need a commodity with a patent that means people can’t GROW the damn thing seems like a dystopia. Human rights > corporate rights…


It would be a dystopia if it were the only cultivar available but it’s not. There are a lot of different potato varieties that they could have planted the vast majority of which are not under patent protection.


The vast majority of crops grown in America are hybrids that wouldn’t come true even if the farmers wanted to save seeds to plant, which they don’t.

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I would like to see labeling on my food about whether it was produced with patented lifeforms. Seems much more dangerous to the environment and humanity than whether it is genetically modified.


That doesn’t change the fact that food should not be a commodity.


We don’t know for a fact that the farmers in question have easy access to the rest of the multitude of varieties of potatoes that exist on the planet, or that they had any active intent to infringe upon a corporation’s rights.

What I do know is that this choice to sue poor farmers in India makes Pepsico look like total assholes.

You do have a good day now.


But some folks wont realize that until everything completely goes to shit, and by then it will be too late.


And if I were to plant genetically modified poison ivy covering the white house lawn, that would be free speech.

It is extremely unlikely that individual farmers are growing plants that are more expensive and less available to them. If the farmers involved have grown that potato specifically to make a lay’s chip competitor then I can the case for Pepsi’s right to sue. If farmers have simply grown a potato that was available to them to eat/sell potatoes, I just don’t agree with copyrighting plant varieties.

If the argument against that is that then Pepsi won’t make special varieties of potatoes for their chips, then… okay? I can’t find any record of Norman Borlaug suing farmers for growing dwarf wheat. We’ll do fine without this bullshit.


Instead of using an old photo of Gandhi, why didn’t Cory google ‘Indian farmer’ like I did & get something like this?

Unfortunately, in many cases it already has. One just need look at the 19th century British imperial policy, first in Ireland in the middle of the century, where the government was shipping food out to Europe (Ireland was a NET EXPORTER of food DURING the famine), while western Irish peasants starved to death, then in India, where they did the exact same thing, shipping out food in the late 19th while Indian peasants starved to death… Profits over people will always end up in the same place, with someone starving.


My bad, I meant here in the US; y’know, the only place on the planet that really matters. Until it happens here to rich White people, it’s not ‘real’ and there’s nothing to be worried about.



I know, right… I mean those Irish and Indian peasants probably didn’t even speak ENGLISH nor were they proper Anglicans, as god intended!! /s

And you KNOW someone actually said both of these things, too, in all earnestness.


Sadly, someone somewhere is probably saying that, right now.


All too true. I would say more people should read Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation, but I know that they won’t… it was written in a dark time, and most people will dismiss it due to that, but this whole decentering of people in favor of markets has a precedence in history, that we should be attentive too, but it’s hard to get people to make that sort of connection, I fear…


This is true enough. However, the catch comes when the patented plant, which is totally unaware that it is owned by some corporation, produces pollen which is spread to some non-patented neighboring crops. Wind pollenated crops can and do spread pollen for miles. Insect pollination tends to be slightly more local, but does not respect property lines or fences. The neighboring farm is now in possession of a “patented gene” and subject to seizure of crops or monetary penalties.