Monday, August 14, 2006

Even better than the Real Thing

Three years after the Indian government confirmed that Coca-cola and Pepsi cola soft drinks contained dangerous levels of pesticides, the Coca-cola and Pepsi cola companies continue to sell their ghastly wares to the Indian populace. The products are so noxious, the US FDA has refused import of Coca-cola products to the United States on 10 separate occasions since January of 2005. Add the production of such foul products to other of Coke's egregious corporate behaviour like distributing bottling plant waste to local farmers, claiming it to be good fertilizer, when in fact the sludge contains high levels of cadmium and lead and is considered by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to be toxic waste, and we have a Coke Classic tale of corporate malfeasance gone global. But it gets better, by which I mean, of course, worse. Coke has been building plants in regions that are drought prone, sucking water tables dry and leaving what is left "unfit for human consumption."

Recently, the state of Kerala completely banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi while Coke officials claim that the "best scientific minds in the world" say that their products are "absolutely safe." It is unclear why the best scientific minds in the world would be spending their days testing Coca-cola products, something that surely could be done by high school chemistry students, but nonetheless, Coke officials have yet to address the question as to why the FDA refuses to allow their Indian-made products into the US.

Enter Wall Street. And the Bush administration -- though there hardly seems to be much difference these days -- which have never seen a case of corporate malfeasance or menacing public health threat they didn't think was the result of an industry "best practice." Indeed, both the US government and "business leaders" have warned of dire consequences for India's "investment climate" should the Indian government continue to insist that Coca-cola stop poisoning their citizens. US Undersecretary for International Trade Franklin Lavin warns those aggravating Indian bureaucrats:
This kind of action is a setback for the Indian economy.
Noting that though the Indian-produced softdrinks contain 24 times the level of pesticides than had been agreed, Coke and Pepsi say that those levels are not yet law, so they really aren't doing anything wrong. Besides, what's a little pesticide in a beverage that can dissolve nails?

This is the current state of mind of the business world today: poison people, foul their water supplies, have them dump your toxic waste on their farm land and then express "concern about the business climate" when they react negatively to the blight you have brought them from across the sea. Thomas Friedman will no doubt find the behaviour of the locals to be "tribal" and anti-modernity, puzzled why they don't just suck it up and instead busy themselves making calls on those wonderful cell phones western society has afforded them.

A Coca-cola way back machine has a little compilation of previous Coke slogans, some of which are rather hilarious in light of this ongoing tale. From 1900 comes one when Coca-cola actually used to contain coca, no doubt a significantly better ingredient than what we can find in today's pestiferous brew:

For headache and exhaustion, drink Coca-Cola

Takes on a whole new meaning.


Blogger Nate said...

If you haven't watched the above movie, you should check it out. I'm going to blog about it but I'm waiting for the political season to ease off a bit so I can get more attention with Public Interest stuff.

Get In Their Face!

7:40 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Hi Nate,


10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The products are so noxious, the US FDA has refused import of Coca-cola products to the United States on 10 separate occasions since January of 2005.

What is the source of this? Do you have any link etc. which confirms this news?

5:06 AM  

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