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[P]
Coke and Pepsi selling Soft Drinks with high pesticide content in india

By tsk1979 in News
Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:09:20 PM EST
Tags: Food (all tags)
Food

Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) India has found that Coke and Pepsi are selling soft drinks with a pesticide content 30-40 times higher than EU guidelines permit. The story can be found here and here among various other sources. Coke and Pepsi have threatened to sue CSE over the findings claiming that the tests should be carried by an international body rather an the India based NGO.

Meanwhile, following the furore in the parliament, sale of soft drinks has been banned in the house. The members are even demanding a blanket ban on sale of products from these two companies.


From the Forbes article "Twelve major cold drinks sold in and around Delhi contain a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues," CSE said in a statement. The centre said the soft drinks in India had high pesticide residues because the soft drink and bottled water industry uses an enormous amount of ground water as the basic raw material. It said total pesticides in all PepsiCo brands on average were 0.0180 milligrams (mg) a litre, 36 times higher than European Union limits, while pesticides in Coca-Cola brands on average were 0.0150 mg a litre, 30 times the limit. The report said concentration of lindane, a carcinogen that also damages the nervous system, was 0.0035 mg per litre in the popular Coca-Cola brand, 35 times higher than EU standards. The CSE said its tests, conducted over the past six months, showed the amount of DDT in Pepsi was 16 times higher than EU norms and nine times higher in Coca-Cola.

However the Cola majors are not the only ones to blame. Lax officials and disinterested politicians are responsible for letting defaulters go unpunished as long as their own pockets are filled.

Though many would argue that ground water in various industrial townships is polluted, it is no excuse for not taking enough care in purification and treatment. In fact in many places it is so polluted that normal methods of purification which are used in the US and EU may be unable to cleanse it. The sad thing is that instead of getting some lessons from the findings the parliament members are more interested in getting political mileage out of the issue. Counter charges have already started flying, and as usual the loser will be the consumer. Even if Pepsi and Coke do something about it, the groundwater that millions drink is still going to remain polluted.

Cokes troubles are on the rise with Kerela State Pollution Control Board finding high levels of cadmium in the waste from Coke's Pallakad plant and classifying it as Hazardous waste. The waste sludge was earlier being given as fertilizer to the farmers of the area.

Local issues aside, it seems that large corporations think they can get away with everything. Not just in the developing countries but also in developed nations. Enron is a recent example, and in the past also there have been class action suits which have resulted in settlements (remember Erin Brokovich?). But unless monetary compensation is supplemented with jail terms, things are not going to change much.

Coming back to the topic, the question arises are the Cola Majors guilty? The fact remains that normal purification methods may be useless in cleansing the water used in the bottling plants, but is sacrificing more advanced water treatment plants in the interest of profits justified? Sadly this story will repeat not just in India but elsewhere also without much being done about it.

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Coke and Pepsi selling Soft Drinks with high pesticide content in india | 103 comments (77 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Heard this on the radio recently. (3.00 / 3) (#8)
by gordonjcp on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:06:13 AM EST

According to the BBC, the Coca-Cola plant was selling cadmium-loaded sludge to farmers as fertiliser. Yup. Lovely.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.


Does anyone else think of Bob Ross? (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by gilrain on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:26:13 AM EST

For some reason, his soothing voice is the first thing I think of when I read the word "cadmium", even in this disturbing context.

"Now, I'd like you to take the slightest bit of cadmium red and gently load your brush. We're going to stroke in a happy little sunset, right about here... But it's your world, you can do anything you want..."

[ Parent ]

damn... (none / 0) (#68)
by /dev/trash on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:38:42 PM EST

Makes we want to go look for some Bob Ross DVDs

---
Updated 07/20/2003!!
Summer Tour!
[ Parent ]
I don't understand this (4.30 / 13) (#10)
by RyoCokey on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:19:01 AM EST

Why would you be required to sell a product with fewer hazardous chemicals than drinking water? What does it matter what the EU standard is, shouldn't any Indian regulations take precident? I wasn't aware the EU legislated for asian countries now.

Seems like a cheap NGO smear-job to me.



farmers don't break into our houses at night, steal our DVDs and piss on the floor. No
Sad reality!! (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by tsk1979 on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:26:46 AM EST

Recently Botteled water was also found to be contaminated and those plants were shut down. Some of the plants belonged to Pepsi, others were of local Indian companies.

As far as ground water is concerened many houses have borewels and they dont pay for it. This story created a furore because in this case a product is being sold without adhering to norms. Wether it is a smear job or not, time will tell when international agencies are invited to test the drinks. But as of now CSEs findings are the source and there is little reason the believe that CSE is going to gain anything out of it.

[ Parent ]

EU or not, that stuff is dangerous (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Torako on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 07:35:13 PM EST

The EU doesn't have any legal power in India, of course and so the argumentation of that NGO seems a bit slippery at least.

But nevertheless the EU norms were defined with the safety of the consumers in mind, so adhering to them is not a bad idea, or following any other western norm on food contamination. After all, the scandalous fact is that Pepsi and Coca Cola sell products that contain dangerous amount (i.e. more than a reasonable norm would allow) of toxic ingedrients.

And the bad quality of the drinking water in India doesn't excuse selling such products in my opinion.

[ Parent ]

Many points (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by omghax on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:01:09 PM EST

EU health and safety standards are the strictest in the world. Most of them are MORE than sufficient to keep the public healthy - but they go a bit overboard in the name of "better safe than sorry".

Side note:
A lot of potentially dangerous chemicals haven't been tested for possible harm or observed as causing defects... in humans, but rather animals such as mice and rats. Many people argue that such animal testing cannot accurately predict what will happen in humans.

Anyway, my point with the above is that noone really knows what kind of tolerance people have for these "dangerous" chemicals. Since testing in humans is unacceptable, all conclusions must be drawn from observations of the unlucky (who have to live with contaminated environment) and animal studies, which are, as I said, not completely accurate.

You write:
"After all, the scandalous fact is that Pepsi and Coca Cola sell products that contain dangerous amount..."

Okay, so either based on your own extensive study or the one hundred percent accurate (cough) scientific work of EU health officials, you're concluding that the levels of chemicals found are "dangerous". I notice that you don't say "possibly" or even "probably" dangerous, just dangerous...

You write:
"And the bad quality of the drinking water in India doesn't excuse selling such products in my opinion."

So, basically, the bad quality of drinking water in India doesn't excuse soda companies from making products with water that ISN'T so bad? Sorry, but since you love the EU and "Western" ways of doing things so much, you should probably consider bad drinking water to be a problem for India's government, not foreign companies.

After all, people probably drink far more water than soda in India and the water quality should be about the same. In fact, since the soda water is probably purified in at least SOME way, it's likely more healthy.

[ Parent ]

India is not in the EU (4.33 / 12) (#11)
by bobpence on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:20:30 AM EST

You can't tell these companies that they suddenly must comply with EU guidelines. India may choose to adopt some EU guidelines as government regulations, just as industry standards developed in the U.S., EU, and Japan tend to be widely adopted in other nations. But with these findings unconfirmed it is just playing politics for the Indian Parliament to start pointing fingers at companies that provide local jobs and live up to local health codes.

I don't think that drinks should be unsafe. That said, it seems that EU levels may be arbitrarily low. Coca Cola and Pepsi can go to great expense to produce a cleaner end product, but cleaning up the source - the contaminated groudwater and the slack farming practices that contaminate it - would be a far better investment. If this is not done, the expense of cleaning up the soft drinks will be passed on in higher prices to people who continue to bathe and cook with poison.

Perhaps the solution, if the drinks will cost more anyway, is to inport them from plants in the United States staffed entirely with former technology workers.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

Well... (3.50 / 4) (#12)
by gilrain on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:22:09 AM EST

I've always argued that Coke products are better than their Pepsi equivalents. I was arguing based and complexity of taste, but at least I can definitively say that Coke products contain less pesticide than Pepsi products!

Next time someone argues in favor of Pepsi, I'm definitely going to have to bring this up. I win the argument if they keel over dead from pesticides before I do, right?

um (1.50 / 6) (#16)
by tps12 on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:42:08 AM EST

Both companies were more than 30 times over the EU limits. Nobody is the good guy here.

And while I won't begrudge you the privelage to have a preferred brand of corn syrup, I am fairly confident in suggesting that if you find that preference something worth arguing over then you need to think about your values and where they come from.

[ Parent ]

Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by gilrain on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:19:16 AM EST

If you'll read the article again, you'll see that Coke was shown to have less pesticide than Pepsi. My post was employing irony in arguing for the lesser of two evils.

I'm not proud that I have a favorite soda company, and neither am I proud that I find the time to argue about it. However, I am downright ashamed that you found the time to point out those deficiencies in my character.

[ Parent ]

Dispassionate piece of advice (5.00 / 3) (#19)
by tranx on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:33:43 AM EST

  1. Open the dictionary
  2. Look under "irony"
Regards

"World War III is a guerrilla information war, with no division between military and civilian participation." -- Marshall McLuhan
[ Parent ]

Riiight... (4.66 / 6) (#17)
by Skywise on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:42:20 AM EST

It's all about the safety of India's consumers...

I notice the (now available in India) Muslim Cola Qibla-Cola isn't on the banned list...

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/2003/06/03/stories/2003060301601800.htm

"As the House was debating the matter, Ahmed of Muslim League said as the chairman of the Committee he had ordered immediate stoppage of supply of these drinks to the Parliament House."

(this one's priceless)
http://www.rediff.com/money/2003/aug/06coke1.htm

"Similar products -- whether it is Coke, Pepsi, or any other soft drink, or medicine or pharmaceutical product -- that the MNCs sell in America and India are different," he said.

Agrees Deepan Kumar, a medical activist with Care for Health, an NGO working across the southern India villages: "Many international studies have revealed that the consumption of soft drinks is riddled with health hazards."

He says the most commonly associated health risks are obesity, diabetes and other blood sugar disorders, tooth decay, osteoporosis and bone fractures, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, food addictions and eating disorders, neurotransmitter dysfunction from chemical sweeteners, and neurological and adrenal disorders from excessive caffeine.

"A common problem found in many teenagers in India today is general gastrointestinal distress. It may be because of the residues of pesticides in the soft drinks," Kumar told rediff.com.

http://www.mafhoum.com/press5/147E62.htm

In India's eastern city of Calcutta, dealers in foreign goods feel the aftershocks of the war particularly acutely. Two political parties in Calcutta's Communist-led West Bengal state called for a boycott of American goods, and a prominent Muslim cleric issued a fatwa against American products in protest against the US-led war on Iraq. Several weeks ago, activists vandalized a Calcutta Nike showroom. Shortly after that incident, members of the ultra-leftist People's War Group stormed a Pepsi warehouse and destroyed multiple cases of the soft drink, saying it symbolized the superpower that was trying to create a new world order. In another concerted attack, protesters in southern India forced a water-bottling unit owned by Coca-Cola to shut down for several days.


It may not be about the consumer... (none / 0) (#71)
by splitpeasoup on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:42:56 AM EST

...but your Muslim conspiracy theory is pretty lame.

-SPS

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi
[ Parent ]

Haven't been home for some time now, (none / 0) (#77)
by Akshay on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:31:47 AM EST

so perhaps someone in India might comment on this, but is Qibla Cola sold in India? There's no mention of any Indian distributor on the company webpage.

In particular, I'm curious as to how the masses have responded to a "Muslim" brand.

[ Parent ]

The Nation (none / 0) (#82)
by Skywise on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:17:12 PM EST

Sorry... should've put this in the main link.

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030602&s=kennedy
May 19, 2003
"The newest such brand, Britain-based Qibla Cola, which will hit the Indian market this month, anticipates massive sales."

[ Parent ]

Doesn't say anything. (none / 0) (#91)
by Akshay on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 05:20:55 AM EST

"will hit" != "has hit"

Remember, India has a loud-mouthed, anti-Muslim, Hindu-right-wing that's known to pull political stunts off. If nothing, I'd say Qibla's entry into India would have have lit a few sparks (and hence would have made headline news, which hasn't happened, so Qibla is probably still not in India)

[ Parent ]

This version is greatly improved (3.00 / 3) (#20)
by HidingMyName on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 11:56:47 AM EST

The original version I saw this morning was a bit too heavy on opinion and didn't present as many supporting facts as I would have liked to have seen.

However, I think the real issue is did Coca Cola and Pepsi break the actual laws in effect in India at the time of the software bottling/production? I'm not a lawyer and don't really know Indian law, but if they were in compliance at the time of bottling, then I'm not sure how they can be guilty (unless Indian law allows ex post facto convictions). Furthermore, I'd be very curious to know if ground water contamination has lead to high concentrations of similar chemicals in other products.

Finally I'll conclude with minor editorial remark, please change the phrase:

Cokes troubles are on the rise with Kerela State Pollution Control Board ...
To instead read
Coke's troubles...


Nope (4.25 / 4) (#28)
by jman11 on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:37:05 PM EST

The real issue is did Coca Cola endanger the lives of people in India.  That is the real concern, who gives a shit about what the law says.  It's called public safety and in a sensible world would be far more important than written law.

[ Parent ]
Yes and no (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by HidingMyName on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:58:16 AM EST

I would hope that the Parliament has passed laws regarding public safety, and that the existing laws would be enforced. If you came to my house, and I offered you a glass of contaminated water while claiming it was pure, and you drank that water resulting in sickness or death, I'd expect to be guilty of some crime in most jurisdictions. Corporate officers who participate in such behavior should not have a legal out. However, if your country has a law saying that water containing x parts per million (ppm) of y is considered pure and I distribute water with z ppm of y where z < x, then I should be able to call that water pure (in the legal sense). If other countries adopt a lower threshold w < z < x, then I'd still be in compliance with your country's laws, even if w << z. However, the legislators in your country might be doing their citizens a grave disservice by exposing them to risk if they allow concentrations as high as x.

So if coke and pepsi broke the law, they should be sanctioned. At the very least, the evidence should be corroborated (it should be easy to obtain random samples and test them). If they didn't break the law, the risk level needs to be assessed. If the risk level is deemed excessive then the law may need revision. Finally an investigation may be necessary to determine if law makers or law enforcement conspired with the companies to legalize unsafe practices.

[ Parent ]

Cokes side (5.00 / 5) (#43)
by tsk1979 on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 12:49:57 AM EST

Coke and Pepsi claim that the CSEs results are not correct and the adhere to EU norms. What CSE says is that it tested samples from the US and fro, india and the Pesticide content in Indian made colas was way much higher. Until another agency substantiates the findings things are in the open.

Meanwhile let me bring to your notice another similer case in which botteled water by Coke(kinley), Pepsi(Aquafina) and Bisleri was the target. The level of contaminants was high and many plants of Pepsi and Bisleri were ordered to be closed. Coke got away because Kinley samples were pure. The case here is that these companies were selling bottled water and advertising that drinking water(ground water) is not safe so buy our water. People buy packaged water(I do so) because ground water is pulluted. Now if the bottled water is also contaminated i have a case. Same thing with Colas.



[ Parent ]
Thanks, this is interesting. (none / 0) (#63)
by HidingMyName on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:01:08 AM EST

Do you know whether they would be violating Indian law if CSE's results were found to be correct?

[ Parent ]
cheap shot by an unknown NGO (4.61 / 13) (#22)
by khallow on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 02:05:43 PM EST

Last I checked, India wasn't part of the EU. Hence, not adhering to EU standards isn't illegal for soda bottlers (not just Coke and Pepsi!). Second, I see no reasoned discussion on the actual danger of these levels of pesticides. Finally, the CSE has no credibility to me. How do we known these alleged pesticide levels are accurate? Far as I know, it may be just another tool for Indian politicians to extort money from foreign corporations. Finally as noted in the story, it turns out that the water supply is beyond the control of the soda bottlers anyway. Hence, we're getting worked over things that are also the responsibility of the Indian government.

Local issues aside, it seems that large corporations think they can get away with everything. Not just in the developing countries but also in developed nations. Enron is a recent example, and in the past also there have been class action suits which have resulted in settlements (remember Erin Brokovich?). But unless monetary compensation is supplemented with jail terms, things are not going to change much.

Water quality is a local issue in India. Hence, this paragraph is moot. Large corporations don't think that they "can get away with everything". They have obligations and little real power. Enron, the nefarious example given above, resorted to fraud precisely because it couldn't afford continually report losses in boom years. Ie, the executives couldn't get away with reporting the true accounting picture and keeping their jobs.

To summarize, there's no story. For these reasons, I voted -1.

Stating the obvious since 1969.

Water standards in India (4.80 / 5) (#27)
by NaCh0 on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:20:49 PM EST

It would be interesting to know how the water standards differ between India and the EU. CSE forgot to mention this little data point.

--
K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
The good news (2.50 / 12) (#29)
by A Proud American on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:44:23 PM EST

The coding job that an Indian's now doing might soon be your responsibility once again.

Congrats unemployed Lunix'ers!

____________________________
The weak are killed and eaten...


Devils advocate (4.68 / 16) (#30)
by godix on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 08:48:50 PM EST

From the report: "Twelve major cold drinks sold in and around Delhi contain a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues". WTF? *TWELVE* of them? I could see a bad business slipping one in, but 12 colas from different companies? It does sound like there's one hell of a problem and I doubt it's the Coke or Pepsi.

Exactly how objective can an organization using phrases like 'deadly cocktail' be? I expect this language from whining politicians not a NGO dedicated to getting at the truth. Sounds like someone is trying a hatchett job on cola companies and we all can guess how accurate the facts from a hatchett job are.

India isn't part of EU. There was an entire non-violent revolution over exact this point. EU guidelines on colas have as much to do with India as Indian laws of cattle treatment have to do with the EU. That this report goes out of it's way to paint colas as bad by a foreign countries regulations indicates to me that the colas are perfectly fine under Indias regulations (although I could be wrong, I don't know jack about Indian good regulation laws).

Let me get this straight. Coke's waste products are high in cadmium, which indicates that coke is removing cadmium from the actual product. Where exactly is the problem here? Would you rather Coke not removed the cadmium from their product so their waste is clean? Oh, wait, they're being accused of exactly that. Nevermind, apperently Coke has developed a magic process to remove enough cadmium to be called 'hazardous waste' AND still leave enough in the product to kill people. Almost sounds like a James Bond villians plot to destroy the world.

Pepsi and Coke offer to have their product tested by basically anyone in the world at any time to prove they're safe and you think the loser is the public? I can't even imagine how braindead you have to be to seriously think this.

You, and all the articles your linking to, seem to miss the central point. The central point is not how many pesticides are or aren't in colas. The central point is how many pesticides are in the local water supply the colas use. Quit whining that the Cola plants should clean up the water and start questioning why the government isn't. That's a solution that will help a whole lot of people besides just cola drinkers. Of course, it's also a solution the requires India to take responsability for it's own enviroment, change their actions that are harmful, and clean up their mess. Apperently it's easier to just bitch about foreign companies and keep the bad water.

"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in

Cadmium (none / 0) (#36)
by The Solitaire on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:40:23 PM EST

I think that the cadmium was mentioned primarily to show that Coke/Pepsi are generally lax on health issues. This is exemplified by the fact that they were passing out cadmium (known to cause kidney and liver damage as well as being a carcinogen) tainted sludge as fertilizer.

The author never states that cadmium is the toxin that is causing the problem as far as the toxins within the softdrinks, so I don't think that it's being suggested that their cadmium removal processes are inadequate.

That being said, I agree with you that the real problem here is groundwater contamination. What might be a good idea is to get the big softdrink companies to assist with a cleanup, which would benefit both the locals, and to an extent the companies, because they'd be able to sell their product again without poisoning their customers.

I need a new sig.
[ Parent ]

Most probably (none / 0) (#98)
by nusuth on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:53:36 PM EST

Cadmium's origin is the process equipment of the plant, not the raw materials.

[ Parent ]
Yes... and no. (5.00 / 5) (#42)
by Akshay on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 12:37:27 AM EST

Yes, the whole thing reeks of a PR campaign, and a badly staged one at that. However:-
India isn't part of EU. There was an entire non-violent revolution over exact this point. EU guidelines on colas have as much to do with India as Indian laws of cattle treatment have to do with the EU. That this report goes out of it's way to paint colas as bad by a foreign countries regulations indicates to me that the colas are perfectly fine under Indias regulations (although I could be wrong, I don't know jack about Indian good regulation laws).
Let's be precise here:- the non-violent revolution was against the British colonial system, which was so authoritarian and racist, that Indians weren't even allowed to walk on some city-streets. (The Mall in Shimla comes to my mind).

We however, reverted to friendship immediately after August 15th, 1947; after all, it was a loyal, royal Brit, Lord Mountbatten, who became independent India's first Governor General. And his was not a stray case; important to acknowledge the positive contribution of other Europeans, such as Dr Verrier Elwin, or the Late Mr Larsen (the founder of the Indian construction conglomerate, Larsen and Toubro) to the making of contemporary India.

Which is partly why Indian jurisprudence has a long tradition of being influenced by European laws and values. The Preamble to the Indian Constitution declares liberty, equality, fraternity and justice as our core values, something that's wholly inspired by the French Revolution. The legislature system is modelled after the existing one in Westminister, with only a few minor modifications to account for an elected President (or Governor in the case of states), and in the powers given to the upper house, the Rajya Sabha. The Directive Principles of state policy are oddly similar to the one in the Irish constitution, although the actual goals differ significantly in breadth and scope.

The European influence has continued even until recent times; the Delhi High Court (or is it the Supreme Court?) for instance, had regulated vehicular emissions on the basis of Euro I and Euro II norms. The ruling (Hindu-right-wing yada yada) Bhartiya Janata Party, without any irony, had argued for its coalition forming a government at the center on the basis of an Italian precedent. (It was ironic because the opposition Congress, was headed by Ms Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian descent. Among other things, the BJP and its allies had opposed Ms Gandhi's candidature for her Italian roots)

So, citing European law on Indian legal matters is neither new nor is it wrong. Particularly when you consider the fact that there's no regulatory framework in place for soft drinks.

Let me get this straight. Coke's waste products are high in cadmium, which indicates that coke is removing cadmium from the actual product. Where exactly is the problem here? Would you rather Coke not removed the cadmium from their product so their waste is clean? Oh, wait, they're being accused of exactly that. Nevermind, apperently Coke has developed a magic process to remove enough cadmium to be called 'hazardous waste' AND still leave enough in the product to kill people. Almost sounds like a James Bond villians plot to destroy the world.
The article here doesn't make it clear, but as I understood it, the Coca Cola company gave that waste as free manure to the farmers in the nearby village. Already reeling under huge debts, the farmers lopped up the free manure without any reservations, until they realised it started stinking when it got wet.

My gut feeling tells me that Coca Cola wanted a cheap, yet publicity-friendly way of disposing its waste. Unfortunately, it didn't quite realise that the waste had hazardous substances, and more importantly, that the press would find about it, and pump some headlines into it.

You, and all the articles your linking to, seem to miss the central point. The central point is not how many pesticides are or aren't in colas. The central point is how many pesticides are in the local water supply the colas use. Quit whining that the Cola plants should clean up the water and start questioning why the government isn't. That's a solution that will help a whole lot of people besides just cola drinkers. Of course, it's also a solution the requires India to take responsability for it's own enviroment, change their actions that are harmful, and clean up their mess. Apperently it's easier to just bitch about foreign companies and keep the bad water.
Ya know, it's not as if the MNC's have a sterling record on environmental responsibility in India. The world's worst chemical disaster was caused by an international fertiliser company that accidentally spewed a hazardous gas, Methyl Iso Cynite, into an an unsuspecting Bhopal suburb 18 (?) years back.

Even Coke and Pepsi haven't exactly covered themselves in glory; in a highly irresponsible act, they had painted advertisements on ancient pre-historic Himalayan and Deccan rocks with non-soluble paint. The Supreme Court had censured and fined the companies for their transgression.

So yes, there's a reason why all there's a virtual cottage industry of non-governmental organisations that's cropped up in India, notwithstanding the fact that most of these NGO's are as rational and logical in their arguments as, say, Ann Coulter.

Obviously, the only way forward for India is to setup a regulatory framework in place. Personally, I'm a fan of independent regulatory authorities for governance, instead of adding another layer of legal bloat, which I suspect, is the first reaction that our knee-jerk politicians would want to take. (India already has the world's largest written constitution; a recent study showed that hardly 10% of all sections in the Indian Penal Code have ever been used).

The broad idea is this:- you setup a regulatory commission for foodstuffs, on the lines of the already existing Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), or the Insurance Regulatory Authority. The Commission acts independently of the government du jour, to avoid unnecessary political meddling in its affairs. It can't legislate laws, but can put forward policies regulating anything related to food (and its quality). It will also hear complaints from the public at large, and if necessary, hold public hearings for the issues at hand. Of course, it is finally accountable to the executive, in that, a Governor perhaps, can dismiss a certain regulatory board member if there are enough complaints against him. Or we could have another meta-commission to regulate the regulators using broadly the same procedures as the other commissions.

Any case, personally, I'm itching for this to go to the courts. The High Courts and the Supreme Court are known to be proactive in environmental matters; they have, on earlier occassions, taken even newspaper reports as Public Interest Litigations and delivered far-reaching judgements on how we treat our environment. This is still fairly early days; should be interesting how it all proceeds.

I, for one, am optimistic for India's sake.

[ Parent ]

Thanks for the intelligent reply (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by godix on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:28:02 PM EST

citing European law on Indian legal matters is neither new nor is it wrong.

I'll accept your analysis. I know more about India than most Americans but all that really means is that I can correctly point it out on a world map and I have some knowledge of the issues behind the India/Pakistan conflicts. Their devotion to all things British is something I had never realized before.
Particularly when you consider the fact that there's no regulatory framework in place for soft drinks.

I'm itching for this to go to the courts.

Don't these two statements contradict each other? Or is it common in India to prosecute companies for things that weren't illegal?
Ya know, it's not as if the MNC's have a sterling record on environmental responsibility in India.

Quite true, I am aware that MNCs like India because of the odd combo of a fairly education population (in some parts at least) and few regulations. While I find it disgusting behavior from the companies I do have to wonder why the Indian government hasn't done anything about it before now. I find it difficult to blame a company for doing something that was completely legal. I find it really difficult to support crucifing a company for their legal actions while ignoring the government that is doing nothing to solve the real problems.

"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in
[ Parent ]
Should have made more clear, (none / 0) (#75)
by Akshay on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:10:37 AM EST

but forgot that you Americans have no concept of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

IANAL and all that, but the way it works is that someone files a lawsuit at the court, asking for the court's interpretation on matter X. The court then hears both sides of the story, probably pulling the public prosecutor or whoever is involved, and then delivers broad instructions to the government, at places even defining public policy for the government. As it did when it ordered the Delhi (state) government to run all its city-buses on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) engines.

Many politicians hate this sort of judicial activism, and no, judicial activism can never replace governance, but until the Indian political leadership matures (or more precisely, until the system promotes mature political leaders while surpressing the not-so competent ones), it's a great stop-gap arrangement.

So yes, you're right; the real problem isn't the companies per se, it's more on the lack of regulation.

[ Parent ]

Interesting (none / 0) (#83)
by godix on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:19:47 PM EST

and I thought America had a problem with judges making up laws. Out of curiosity would a PIL punish coke/pepsi for their past actions or would it just put regulations on their future actions? Also of interest, is there any recourse? If one side doesn't like the result can these decisions be appealed in any way?

"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in
[ Parent ]
Hot off the press:- PIL rejected. (none / 0) (#92)
by Akshay on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 05:46:02 AM EST

First thing, let's make this clear:- I said the judiciary sometimes step into the realm of the executive, that is, they said guidelines for conduct etc. They can't - and haven't - set laws, which is the role of the legislature. And trust me, they would, if they could; the Great Big Legal Debate these days is on the Supreme Court "mandating", ie, requesting, the Union government to set up a civil code that's common to all peoples of India. Right now, it's a huge mess, really, with each state defining property law differently for different religions, castes, ethnicities, what-have-you.. the Constitution itself recognises that this is a colonial anachronism, and had actually set a time-frame for the removal. Pressure-group politics and some absolutely clueless leadership at the center had so far prevented that from happening.

Anycase, the news from India is that at least one court has dismissed a PIL against Coke. The link will change in a day, so here's the relevant bit:-

... the court declared that the PIL was aimed at seeking cheap propaganda without any material in support of the petition.

The Bench found fault with the petitioner for filing the PIL merely based on newspaper reports, and imposed costs of Rs 10,000 on the petitioner as he failed to make out any case whatsoever in this regard.

Lamenting the present-day scenario of filing PILs offhand, the Bench criticised the tone and tenor of the affidavit filed by the petitioner wherein he stated that the Members of Parliament are "selfish".

Which, incidentally, was an unnaturally amusing response from the AP High Court, although I'd personally disagree on the Rs. 10,000 fine; it in a way, inhibits free thought, and therefore, bad.

(Also note that the buzz back in Hyderabad these days is that some judges have become so partisan that you can effectively "predict" their responses; have no idea whether it is true or not, nor do I know of any names)

And finally, here's some saner, in ways scary, commentary on the whole issue.

[ Parent ]

Thanks (none / 0) (#100)
by godix on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 03:42:36 AM EST

What an odd commentary. I agree with his point, it's basically the point I've maintained all along. Its just odd to read something written in my native language and I have to go googling for the meaning of every 7th word. On the bright side I now what what gangajal is, although the most common links were to a movie instead of the water itself. The author also used some distinctly American references, does the average Indian actually know who Carly Fiorina is?

"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in
[ Parent ]
All 12 appear (5.00 / 1) (#50)
by Skywise on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 03:34:28 AM EST

to be owned, or exclusively bottled in India, in some way shape or form by Pepsi or Coke.  At least my quick research this morning appeared to bear this out.

[ Parent ]
poor devil (4.00 / 4) (#52)
by fhotg on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 04:29:41 AM EST

WTF? *TWELVE* of them? I could see a bad business slipping one in, but 12 colas from different companies? It does sound like there's one hell of a problem and I doubt it's the Coke or Pepsi.

You are confusing brand names and companies. In fact, eleven of the twelve tested soft-drinks, are manufactured by Coca-Cola or Pepsi. And I am not sure if the twelveth (Seven Up) isn't by Pepsi/Coke as well.

Exactly how objective can an organization using phrases like 'deadly cocktail' be? ... India isn't part of EU. EU guidelines on colas have as much to do with India as Indian laws of cattle treatment have to do with the EU

How stupid is this ? Toxicity of pesticides for humans ought to be the same for Indians and Europeans and Americans. EU - limits (EEC) are quoted because it can be assumed that they are scientifically based and reasonable (as are US-standards (EPA), which in general are the same or very similar, surprise surprise). Why are no Indian limits quoted ? Because they don't exist, which is the major point of criticism the study makes. Duh.

Let me get this straight. Coke's waste products are high in cadmium, which indicates that coke is removing cadmium from the actual product. ... AND still leave enough in the product to kill people.

Just because Coke is dumping hazardous waste for free by giving it to unsuspecting farmers as "fertilizer", it doesn't mean that the poison was in the soft drink before and they removed it. Where did you read anything about cadmium in soft-drinks ? You made that up, right ?

The central point is how many pesticides are in the local water supply the colas use.

If I buy a product sold as "food" or at least as "fit for human consumption", I expect the producer to have taken care that this is so, no matter if in certain areas it might be a tad more expensive to get unpoisonous raw material. You sound like a fucking racist here. What if company A took contaminated local water in the US (this exists too) and made your soft-drinks from it ? You'd blame the government for not having cleaned up already each and every aquifer ?

You have one half-point though. Indian authorities are to blame that they seem to have no law in place to prohibit poisioning of their populatiopn by unscrupulous foreign companies. The companies who knowingly exploit this situation to bring disease and death to the people for more profit(and probably did their share to prevent appropriate regulations) are the scum of the earth. My dream: Have the responsible managers facing charges of mass-murder, and be punished according to Texan law.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

7-Up... (5.00 / 2) (#61)
by Zerotime on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 09:29:53 AM EST

...is owned by "Dr. Pepper / 7-Up Inc". I'm not sure if they're owned by anyone, though.

[ Parent ]
Still not focusing on the real problem (none / 0) (#66)
by godix on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 10:13:05 PM EST

You are confusing brand names and companies.

No I'm not. I specifically avoided saying 12 different companies. I know most colas were from the Pepsi/Coke companies. 7up is I believe a seperate company. My original quote was "12 colas from different companies" and having 12 colas from 3 companies certainly fits what I said.
Toxicity of pesticides for humans ought to be the same for Indians and Europeans and Americans.

The thing is we aren't talking about toxicity here. None of the linked articles actually talk about what is scientifically considered a toxic dosage, they all talk about what the EU considers illegal. Legal limits vary from country to country, sometimes but quite a large amount. It is entirely possible that the EU set the limit well below the dangerous point. This is one of the reasons I voted down the article, it concerns itself with violating regulations of a foreign country instead of actual health dangers.
Why are no Indian limits quoted ?  Because they don't exist, which is the major point of criticism the study makes.

But it isn't the major point of criticism in this article or most of the sources linked to. Another reason I voted against the story.
it doesn't mean that the poison was in the soft drink before and they removed it.

I freely admit I don't know dick about making soft drinks. I do have to wonder why a plant making soft drinks would have cadmium in it's waste. A google search of cadmium brought all sorts of info to me, but no where did I read about it being used to make soft drinks which makes me wonder where the hell the cadmium came from. The most logical answer is from the raw materials. The most obvious raw material that would be contaminated is the water itself. So yes, I'm making shit up, but I have yet to hear a better explanation of where the cadmium came from if it wasn't the water. It's not like Coke imports the stuff to stick in it's sludge.
If I buy a product sold as "food" or at least as "fit for human consumption", I expect the producer to have taken care that this is so

So do I. But I live in the first world which has strict regulations. Much of the third world doesn't have this expectation because there are no regulations, at least none enforced. Unfortunately India has a lot in common with the third world, lack of regulations regarding safe food appears to one of those similarities.
You sound like a fucking racist here.

Pointing out that Coke/Pepsi are being made distractions from the real problem in Indian government is racist? Did you even think about what you were saying in your attempt to demonize me? It's now racism to criticise a foreign country? Hot damn, now I can label all those anti-US MNCs people as racist! Quit complaining about my countries companies you racist fuck.
What if company A took contaminated local water in the US (this exists too) and made your soft-drinks from it ?

I'd call for the company to be disbanded because they are violating existing laws. It appears no laws in India were violated. For that reason the situation should be dealt with differently, making appropriate laws would be a good start.
You'd blame the government for not having cleaned up already each and every aquifer ?

I'd certainly wonder why that water source isn't being cleaned up. I expect the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and other enviromentalist groups would wonder as well and pressure the government into cleaning it up. America seems to be more concerned about the enviroment than India is. Probably because America is much richer and can afford to be concerned.
The companies who knowingly exploit this situation to bring disease and death to the people

Who? As I said, the issue seems to be that they violated a foreign countries regulations and their drinks are, in one NGOs words, 'deadly cocktails'. I did notice for having a whole lot of deadly cocktails floating around there was a remarkable lack of anyone actually claiming to be injured. I'll accept that Coke/Pepsi endangered people once there's some tests by more than one seemingly biased NGO and once those test show dangerous levels, not just over another countries limits. It's entirely possible these drinks were dangerous in which case I agree the companies should be crucified. It's also entirely possible that the NGO is lying and there is no problem or even that Coke/Pepsi violated EU's limits but not to the point where it'd be dangerous. Until some actual tests and facts come out it's far to early to say one way or another if Coke/Pepsi are evil.

"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in
[ Parent ]
some clean up (none / 0) (#78)
by fhotg on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:32:00 AM EST

Yes, 12 products from 3 companies can be made fit what you said - using a blow torch and a big hammer, and how the fact that 91.7 % of the contaminated samples were produced by Pepsi or Coke lead you to doubt that it's the Coke or Pepsi [which is the hell of a problem] kinda escapes me, but ok.

None of the linked articles actually talk about what is scientifically considered a toxic dosage, they all talk about what the EU considers illegal.

EU legal limits are, like WHO and EPA - limits, are used as a simple way to express the scientific state of knowledge regarding the toxicity of substances. This works, b/c said official bodies regularly update their recommendations according to said state of knowledge, which also results in pretty much the same numbers (at least for pesticides in drinking-water) regardless of organization.

In the remaining part of your answer I think, our major difference in the perception of the events shows. You focus very much on the point that apparently no local laws were violated, which makes the actions of Pepsi & Coke basically ok. I do not agree and insist that evil actions, even if there is no law against it, are still evil. Besides, the lack of pesticide-limits for sugarized water doesn't automatically makes it legal to sell diluted pesticides as food-stuff and I expect and hope that Indian courts will give Pepsi/Coke a hard time about this. When I said "racist" I meant the attitude which seems to free any company from any responsibility not to harm people, as long as these people are living in an environment which doesn't have US-like efficient legal prerequisites to defend ones health against said companies. So, you don't expect Coke to be unpoisoned when in India ? I'd be so interested in a statement of the US - consulate staff in New Delhi about that :).

Until some actual tests and facts come out it's far to early to say one way or another if Coke/Pepsi are evil.

No doubt, the judgement of the reliability of the facts is always subjective. I don't really need to say that the CSE - report sounds more reliable to me than to you (it wasn't linked, you maybe didn't read it).

Coke / Pepsi have a long track record of being evil, poisoning Indians doesn't significantly change their rating on my evilness-meter.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Clean up? In India? You must be joking. (none / 0) (#84)
by godix on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 07:00:04 PM EST

EU legal limits are, like WHO and EPA - limits, are used as a simple way to express the scientific state of knowledge regarding the toxicity of substances.

Just to pick a random example I happen to know about: A 1999 study showed feeding 33,000 times the DDT that humans recieved (based on a 1962 estamated of .18 mg per day) to apes lead to 'inconclusive with respect to a carcinogenic effect of DDT in nonhuman primates'. Despite this, and many other reports like it, WHO set an acceptable daily intake of DDT for humans at 0.01 mg per kg per day. For reasons like this I don't accept that levels regulatory agencies set are the same thing as what is actual dangerous amounts. Coke/Pepsi are accused of violating a regulatory limit, I have yet to hear any credible evidence they were posing a public health risk though. Regardless of this, I did not say the Pepsi/Coke actions are ok. If they posed a public health risk then there is a problem. The problem won't be solved by just crucifying Pepsi/Coke though, it's a problem that would be solved by regulation and cleaning up the water supply. That's not what appears to be happening though, instead it seems India has decided to use foreign companies as scapegoats and distractions from the real problems.

As for my expectations, I expect sodas to be about as pure as the water it's bottling plant uses. In the case of India that means that I expect the soda very well might have pesticides in it.

Actually I agree with you on the report, it probably is reliable. At least the factual parts of 'X chemical was present in Y amount' probably are. What I don't accept is a supposedly non-biased NGO using language like 'dangerous cocktail' or blaming Pepsi/Coke for Indian water quality. My arguements are not so much defending Pepsi/Coke but rather wondering why the hell they're the focus of the story instead of Indias government.


"Fuck... may be appropriate in certain venues... (Florida Elections Commission, speed eating contests, public defender offices) and may be inappropriate in
[ Parent ]

approaching (none / 0) (#97)
by fhotg on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:57:00 AM EST

It is indeed not easy to know what amount of what substance poses a "public health risk". This has to do with the fact that we don't experiment on humans, our limited knowledge of cause and effect over long time-spans and exposures, unknown 'synergy'-effects of different substances ... etc. In the end, it's subjective. I take the mentioned standards as a valid yardstick, because I don't know any better suited norms. It is not like these standards are always and in every respect over-cautious, they too are a compromise between stakeholders which include say, for example, sugar-water vendors.

As for my expectations, I expect sodas to be about as pure as the water it's bottling plant uses.

Right. However, I also expect that a soda bottling plant uses water that is not contaminated according to commonly accepted standards.

The question wether Pepsi/Coke or the Indian Government are the Bad here is somehow moot. If the Indian Government were composed of un-bribable politicians who cared for nothing but the well-being of their people, this wouldn't have happend as it wouldn't, if Pepsi/Coke would give a shit about the health of their customers.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

Just further proof... (3.62 / 8) (#32)
by skyknight on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 09:05:19 PM EST

the amount of DDT in Pepsi was 16 times higher than EU norms and nine times higher in Coca-Cola

that Coke is better than Pepsi.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
I had a vanilla pepsi today. (3.83 / 6) (#38)
by Work on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:45:11 PM EST

Seriously, it exists here in Houston.

However, the 'vanilla' part I'm suspect about. My belief is its just relabeled indian pepsi and that odd flavor was the pesticides.

No you didn't (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by autopr0n on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 07:23:25 AM EST

The proper term is "Pepsi Vanilla"


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
[ Parent ]
Coke and Pepsi lose (3.66 / 9) (#39)
by Tatarigami on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 10:52:17 PM EST

Can they deny knowing the water was dangerous? No. That would be the same as admitting they don't know what they're putting in their products and risking consumer panic in their other markets.

Seems to me that regardless of what the Indian government and other local suppliers are doing, the only way Coke and Pepsi can defend themselves is by pointing out that they're doing business in a country that doesn't mind if they poison their customers. Which still isn't good.

This whole thing is going to degenerate into corporate whining: "They really wanted our product -- they didn't care if it was contaminated! And, and, the government said it's okay! Heck, everyone else gets to do it, why can't we? It's not fair, you're just picking on us because we're one of the most profitable companies in the world!"

India needs more pesticides (4.66 / 3) (#40)
by IHCOYC on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 11:08:35 PM EST

In India, the liberal use of pesticides would seem to do more to promote wellbeing than avoiding them as contaminants. If there are larger trace amounts of pesticides in these drinks than would be tolerated by regulators in places where mosquito and parasite diseases aren't quite such a problem, it doesn't follow that the soft drink companies are being careless.
 --
Quod sequitur, sicut serica lucis albissima tingere rogant;
Quod sequitur, totum devorabit.

http://www.fanta.dk/ (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by siberian on Wed Aug 06, 2003 at 11:51:19 PM EST

Who cares when they bring us fun website like this! http://www.fanta.dk

Fanta Shokata!

Or even better: Chevy Chase... (none / 0) (#46)
by Work on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 01:09:30 AM EST

hawking Turkish cola! This is great

[ Parent ]
People dont care (3.00 / 10) (#45)
by gokul on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 12:56:36 AM EST

If the same level of pesticides or other materials had been found in Europe or US, you bet there would have been thousands of litigations by now, plus half of the forum posters whining about how they never liked Coke and Pepsi in the first place.

When the same thing happens in India, the nature of comments suddenly change to how its the Indian system thats responsible, not the American colas. Most of the posts I see below are jokes on how Coke can prove they are better than Pepsi. 'A Proud American' seems happy that Indians will die so that jobs will flow back to the US.

Seriosly, I doubt there is a point about debating with people who cant see anything beyond their noses.

You are wrong (4.00 / 2) (#47)
by tsk1979 on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 01:42:40 AM EST

Yes you are right people are whining, however we have +31 people who actually feel this should be posted. Dont generalize my friend. I am an indian, and I know that the Indian system is equally responsible. The Colas are definaltely guilty unless CSE findings are flawed. Last night PepsiCo Marketing director went on record on NDTV saying that they adhere to EU norms. Whos true and whos lying only time will tell!

And dont get too pissed of about trolls. They are everywhere. And hey eveybody has a right to present his/her side of the argument. If somebody feels the colas are not guilty its their right to say so. It does not make them bad!

[ Parent ]

why bother? (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by khallow on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 04:19:12 AM EST

If the same level of pesticides or other materials had been found in Europe or US, you bet there would have been thousands of litigations by now, plus half of the forum posters whining about how they never liked Coke and Pepsi in the first place.

But we're not talking about the US, the EU, or their legal systems. It's not just a matter of selfishness. Everyone knows the EU standards on pesticides (which was the legal standard apparently used here) like most of their Green-inspired rules, are nuts. So it's no surprise that Indian beverages fail to meet the overly rigorous EU standards. I don't see any reason to care based on that. But in case it makes you feel any better, I never liked Coke or Pepsi in the first place.

When the same thing happens in India, the nature of comments suddenly change to how its the Indian system thats responsible, not the American colas. Most of the posts I see below are jokes on how Coke can prove they are better than Pepsi. 'A Proud American' seems happy that Indians will die so that jobs will flow back to the US.

Well, it is the Indian system that is responsible so some of these comments would be expected. I don't see the need to discuss the ghoulish statements above. You know we have trolls here.

Seriosly, I doubt there is a point about debating with people who cant see anything beyond their noses.

I can and do. How about yourself? Maybe it's just easier to assume things, and maintain a selfish sense of fake moral outrage even when you don't know enough to make a proper judgement. I wouldn't call that seeing beyond one's nose though.

Let me reiterate what's wrong with the entire story: the accuser has no credibility, the harm, if any, isn't quantified, and finally the blame appears (at least in the K5 story) to be goes to multinational soda companies even though other parties including local competitors and the Indian government obviously play a role (and barely get mentioned).

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

BS (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by fhotg on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 04:59:14 AM EST

But we're not talking about the US, the EU, or their legal systems. It's not just a matter of selfishness. Everyone knows the EU standards on pesticides (which was the legal standard apparently used here) like most of their Green-inspired rules, are nuts.

Everyone who's not talking out of his ass, like you khallow, knows that US - environmental protection regulations are among the, if not the, finest and most stringent in the world. The parametric values of European guidelines are usually same or similar (science is valid everywhere, you know), but enforcement in EUland has still a long way to go to reach US - efficiency.
~~~
Gitarren für die Mädchen -- Champagner für die Jungs

[ Parent ]

blah (3.00 / 2) (#58)
by autopr0n on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 07:28:25 AM EST

When the same thing happens in India, the nature of comments suddenly change to how its the Indian system thats responsible, not the American colas.

How can you possibly claim that they are the fault of "american" colas? The Indians are the ones who poluted their own water.


[autopr0n] got pr0n?
autopr0n.com is a categorically searchable database of porn links, updated every day (or so). no popups!
[ Parent ]
I am an Indian and I disagree with you (none / 0) (#72)
by grkhetan on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 12:56:23 AM EST

I am an Indian, so your comments regarding the Americans' neglect of Indian issues dont apply to me. Now,

If the same level of pesticides or other materials had been found in Europe or US, you bet there would have been thousands of litigations by now, plus half of the forum posters whining about how they never liked Coke and Pepsi in the first place.

  1. CSE is not a accredited institution of testing.
  2. Even if what it says is true, there is no point of possible litigations. There were no laws broken. There are no existing laws in India as regards soft drinks that Coke and Pepsi didnt follow. The EU laws apply to EU and not to India. Point to note: The EU laws that they are talking about have not even been implemented even in EU uptil now. They were announced some 5 years ago, to come into action on January 2004.
  3. Higher levels of pesticides were found by the same CSE lab six months ago in "Bottled water", which is manufactured by Indian companies in India. The reason found was that due to bad farming practises the groundwater of India has been contaminated and contains pesticides.
On what moral reasons, should Coke and Pepsi clean up water, when the groundwater itself is polluted causing all water products to be polluted given that there are even no laws of control.

When the same thing happens in India, the nature of comments suddenly change to how its the Indian system thats responsible, not the American colas.

Now from the above points, dont you feel the same?

Most of the posts I see below are jokes on how Coke can prove they are better than Pepsi. 'A Proud American' seems happy that Indians will die so that jobs will flow back to the US.

Trolls.

Seriosly, I doubt there is a point about debating with people who cant see anything beyond their noses.

Maybe its the opposite. Indians can never see beyond their noses. They are always bickering and frustrated due to the struggle for survival that they have to go through in India, and because of the bad Indian system in general (political, economical, social, etc... not including cultural).

-- Ask "Why?" to everything...
[ Parent ]

-1, too India-centric (2.50 / 12) (#48)
by grouse on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 01:48:05 AM EST


You sad bastard!

"Grouse please don't take this the wrong way... To be quite frank, you are throwing my inner Chi out of its harmonious balance with nature." -- Tex Bigballs

Spin (4.00 / 6) (#49)
by lauraw on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 01:48:35 AM EST

I love the spin that different publications put on this:

They aren't answering the important question. (4.71 / 7) (#55)
by mjfgates on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 06:17:22 AM EST

So, does the cola in India have more pesticides in it than the drinking water from the general area where the bottling plants sit? If so, there's a story here-- adding poison to drinks is Bad. If not, there isn't-- expecting soda companies, and ONLY soda companies, to miraculously clean up their water is just stupid. I don't see any kind of comparison between the water and the Coke yet, and until it's there nobody can really say whether there's reason to point fingers at the soda companies.

Of course you can point (5.00 / 2) (#74)
by iasius on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:44:18 AM EST

fingers at the soda companies. It just means maybe you should point fingers somewhere else as well. Just because the drinking water around the plants might have the same toxics in them does not mean Coca Cola and Pepsi should be allowed to bottle it unprocessed and sell it all over the country.


the internet troll is the pinnacle of human evolution - circletimessquare
[ Parent ]
Hype (2.66 / 3) (#65)
by sellison on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 08:21:17 PM EST

the real danger to Indians is not the minor danger of pollution hyped by the anti-capitalists in the liberal press, rather it is from God's righteous wrath for the terrible way they treat His people, the meek Christian Dalits.

"Thus, dalits who have converted to Christianity have lost the constitutional safeguards given to the Scheduled Castes of three other religions. This has increased their vulnerability."
http://www.dalitchristians.com/Html/dalitrights.htm

And some on these pages have had the gall to call India the world's largest democracy, when in fact it is a socialist heathen state where state discrimination is actively pursued against Christians!

For shame!


"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God."- George H.W. Bush

you are such an idiot (1.66 / 3) (#69)
by tsk1979 on Thu Aug 07, 2003 at 11:24:04 PM EST

You actually believe in all the bullshit. Well its okay thats what your mental level is

[ Parent ]
Ahhh, you're being sarcastic right? (3.00 / 2) (#73)
by Insaa on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 01:01:42 AM EST

Oh Christ Almightly, Mother of God, Holy Virgin Mary, Fisherman Peter, Holy Shit, you're not being sarcastic!

Please don't tell me that you consider yourself educated. Religious Wacko? Yes. Educated? Only as tangibly as the Christian god.

[ Parent ]

jesus! (none / 0) (#103)
by ballie on Wed Oct 01, 2003 at 10:52:45 AM EST

There are no constitutional safeguards for any cast in India, simply because officialy they dumped the cast-system years ago. Of course, in daily life it still persists, but there are no laws upholding or protecting the cast-system in India. Did you know about the dalit who became a Supreme Court judge? Things have changed quite a bit since you last looked at the country up close. Further more, cristians are treated badly in India because they show absolutely no respect whatsoever for anyone who is not a cristian. As your comment shows: you are only interested in the fate of the cristian-dalits. No matter is everyone else is dying of food-poisoning. The core of Indian society is that anyone can believe anything and still be a real Indian. Of course they fight and argue, but they never convert: because that's pure arrogance. India does'nt like arrogance in religion. Jesus will always be a saint, whatever his shortsighted followers may do or think.

[ Parent ]
ATCA (2.50 / 2) (#76)
by sly on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 02:21:38 AM EST

Legal question from an ignorant undergrad:

Just wondering... Could Coke/Pepsi be prosecuted in the U.S. under the Alien Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. § 1350) citing the Universal Declaration on Human Rights or other international covenants on human rights?
I've got some cereal in my pocket.

Pesticide in Coke and Pepsi (2.40 / 5) (#80)
by HermanMcGuigan on Fri Aug 08, 2003 at 06:28:35 AM EST

Coke and Pepsi are selling soft drinks with a pesticide content 30-40 times higher than EU guidelines permit

But isn't pesticide good for you? The Atkins diet encourages consuming vast quantities of animal fat and dairy products full of harmful hormones, so why not pesticide too?

Here's an idea: perhaps we shouldn't stand for any pesticide in our drinks, or people trying to claim that large-scale dairy and meat consumption is healthy.

No, I don't see a difference. All I see is people encouraging consumers to poison themselves and profiting as a result.



Are Coke/Pepsi really responsible? (none / 0) (#85)
by termv on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 12:13:25 AM EST

Do the soft drink manufacturers not just sell syrup to local producers who have licensed the brand name? If so many soft drink brands suffer from the same problem, the fault must lie with India's own environmental conditions or standards.

From Coke / Pepsi's perspective, it does not help the brand if the bottling company is putting contaminated water into their product. Unfortunately for them, the likely thing for politicians to do is to blame the whole mess on the cola companies and use that as a platform for toughening environmental regulations.

Or am I just being cynical again?

Pretty ironic (4.00 / 1) (#86)
by Blarney on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 02:50:42 AM EST

It's kind of ironic that Coke and Pepsi were selling drinks made with poisoned water in India, considering that Indian standards for soft drinks are so stringent that they actually prohibit Mountain Dew. Drinks containing brominated vegetable oil are illegal there, as BVO is considered poisonous and possibly carcinogenic - not without reason. Most pesticides are halogenated hydrocarbons, a class of compounds which does not occur in Nature and are often toxic or carcinogenic - just like BVO, a mixture of halogenated hydrocarbons.

So despite the Indian prohibition of soft drinks containing halogenated hydrocarbons, Coke and Pepsi cleverly found a way to sell them anyway! Makes you wonder if they're just trying to poison everyone in the world.

Well, I gotta go, got to refill my glass of cola.

Good point. (none / 0) (#94)
by Akshay on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:07:57 AM EST

Almost forgot about the BVO debate all this while. Yes you're right; lots of soft drinks were about to be banned because of BVO, in fact, if I remember correctly, Coke had some issues coming back to India, because Indian regulations used to prohibit soft drinks in quantities other than integral multiples of 250 ml. (The traditional Coke can is 330 ml)

[ Parent ]
It seems to me that... (4.00 / 4) (#87)
by Dracolith on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 03:01:17 AM EST

The people of India have zero reasonable expectation that Coke and Pepsi will/can overcome the fact that the drinking water available in the area contains enough pesticide to be considered contaminated by outside standards and provide them with a product that is purer than their local water supply.

Unless of course they were selling their product on the basis of the claim that it was safer for people to drink than their local water.

If the local water was safe, then so was their product. If the local water was not safe, then their product is still not the major issue as it is not less or inferior to the norm, but (in all likelihood) better than the available water, seeing they have some purification.

The only way the bottler's are to blame for contaminants is if they failed to perform the basic research, knew a contaminant was a risk but failed to monitor levels it, choose dirty sources of their products components [where they could choose], or they themselves added contaminants directly.

Since when were Corn Syrup drinks claimed to be super-safe or super-healthy anyhow?

Does someone have evidence (with multiple good references) that those sorts of pesticides at the levels reported are even harmful to humans?



Reasonable Expectations and Fountain Drinks (none / 0) (#88)
by Blarney on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 03:15:38 AM EST

Many Indians do, in fact, expect that soft drinks will be purer then the ordinary water available from taps or wells.

I've worked with Indians who had never seen a soda fountain before they came to the United States! Fountains make sense here in the US, because clean water is cheap but transport is expensive - so cheaply ship the syrup and mix it with water and CO2 when it gets to where people will drink it. However, in India, the clean water is valuable in and of itself. It's worth shipping bottled drinks around because the customers consider them to be trustworthy and clean.

I worked with one Indian woman from a rather wealthy family, who thought it amazing that Americans had drinkable tap water both in the kitchen and in the bathroom! Her house had two kinds of water - washing water and drinking water - and the drinking kind required purification filters which were quite expensive by Indian standards. Hard for us to even imagine a water utility that delivers filthy undrinkable swill to our homes - but if this is the situation, people will be happy to buy clean bottled drinks simply to avoid the hassle of purification. In fact, I can't imagine how you can filter Coke after it's made - so it had damn well better be cleaner then the "washing water".

[ Parent ]

quick cultural query (none / 0) (#90)
by TomV on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 04:49:24 AM EST

I've worked with Indians who had never seen a soda fountain before they came to the United States!

For the benefit of this reader in the UK, could you explain what a 'soda fountain' is? (substitute my Question-mark for your exclamation-mark!?)

Also, news update - according to the BBC, since the story was posted here, it's progressed including:
  • Pollution Control Board of Kerala State asks CocaCola to stop distributing cadmium-rich sludge to farmers until a thorrough testing program is carried out.
  • Andhra Pradesh to carry out spot checks on soft drinks
  • Demonstatrations in various cities, notably Mumbai and Allahabad, including bottle-smashing and defacement of posters of Bollywood stars with soft-drink endorsement deals. (but bear in mind the involvement of political parties including the BJP which do have a significant nationalist strain to their policies)
  • Indian Defence Ministry bans Coke and Pepsi products from all its establishments
  • PepsiCo files for an injunction at Delhi High court to prevent the Government from acting on the CSE report. Coke files for similar injunction in Mumbai High Court.

This one's flying...

[ Parent ]
A mixing machine (none / 0) (#96)
by Skywise on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 10:28:22 AM EST

Which is usually connected to a can/box of syrup, a can of CO2 (for the fizz) and a water supply.  They're mixed together by the machine on the fly to dispense soda.  In industry lingo this is the "post-mix" configuration (mixed after its left the plant).  This gives the fountain owners the ability to buy their CO2 and water on their own, but generally they'll buy a package contract for the entire setup (machine + syrup + CO2).  Water, however, is always from a public supply.

In the US, this is the main method of Coke/Pepsi products distribution throughout all the fast food restaurants.

The other configuration is "pre-mix" where everything is mixed at the bottling plant and shipped out in ready made pressuried cylinders.  The machines for these are also called "soda fountains" but act like nothing more than beer taps.

(I worked at Pepsi for a year during school)

[ Parent ]

Well, (none / 0) (#93)
by Akshay on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 05:53:38 AM EST

the explanation is that the drinking water supply is usually supplied by the city corporation, while the water for washing is usually from the borewells.

The split is also partly because of ancient religious laws, at least for the (upper-class yada yada) Brahmin community; Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre's Freedom of Midnight lists twenty-one laws from the ancient Manusmriti determining how and when a pious Brahmin could answer Nature's Call.

(Personally, never really bothered about all that shit, pun intended; decadence has set into my lifestyle, and I know for a fact that my grandma won't approve of, say, my unwashed pile of laundry)

[ Parent ]

Realy? (none / 0) (#89)
by mayor on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 04:06:55 AM EST

It simple. Coca Cola is selling a product that produces cancer, presumably against the law, and when caught, they blame it on contaminated water.

So what if the raw material they use is contaminated?

Suppose I am a builder. If the bricks that I was were defective in some way, would I still be liable if the building collapsed a month later? Will blaming the brick be a reasonable justification to the scholars of k5? You arlready know the answer.

(In a few minutes another semi-idiot will be quick to post that my anolagy is flawed in one way or another. Enough! I used this analogy to present an clarify my general way of thinking; now, don't bother me without good reasons.)

[ Parent ]

The water they're using (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by Dracolith on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:00:29 PM EST

Is not a raw material.

Nor are bricks raw material.

Both are processed materials.

If you are a builder and are supplied with defective bricks, and your building later collapses, then the manufacturer of the bricks is more at fault than you are, for supplying you with faulty building material.

If all the building materials available in the area are somehow defective, then the builders are certainly not the parties fault.

In any case, we're not talking about buildings collapsing and hurting random occupants and people walking down the street.

We're talking about people people selling things that may or may not be unhealthy to the person who chooses to consume it.

There's no evidence that their product produces cancer. Whereas there certainly is evidence that collapsing buildings hurt people and are costly to rebuild.



[ Parent ]
no (none / 0) (#102)
by wh4tn0w on Tue Aug 12, 2003 at 08:31:54 AM EST

mostly they'll just comment on your misspelling analogy.

[ Parent ]
Government Supression? (3.50 / 2) (#95)
by Akshay on Sat Aug 09, 2003 at 06:21:25 AM EST

Hate sounding like one of those X-phile lunatics, but there's an article in a local newspaper suggesting that the central government has asked a lab (The National Institute of Nutrition?) to supress its data on pesticide contamination in food.

Deccan Chronicle is known to be sensationalist, and will drop the article in a day, so here's the article in full text anyway:-

Hyderabad, Aug 8: It's not just soft drinks which are loaded with high levels of poisonous chemicals. Fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, cheese, ice creams, sweets, and chicken too have residues of harmful chemicals in them, scientists said.

A WHO study several years back had revealed that pesticide levels even in human milk in India were alarmingly high, Prof S A Abbasi, senior professor and director, Centre for Pollution Control and Energy Technology at the Pondicherry University, said.

Laboratory studies have shown that more than 60 per cent of vegetable and fruit samples collected from different parts of Andhra Pradesh are contaminated with harmful pesticides. Experts are particularly alarmed over the presence of DDT in samples of fruits and vegetables grown in the State.

According to a report of the Food Protectants and Infestation Control Department of the Central Food Technological Research Institute, Mysore, high levels of DDT residues had been reported from Andhra Pradesh, "probably due to intensive application of DDT for vector control under the malaria irradiation programme".

Agro-products grown in the State are so contaminated with pesticides that several European nations have imposed restrictions on their import. The situation is so alarming that the Central government has reportedly instructed a major public laboratory in the city not to publish its test findings in the annual report.

"We used to carry the details in our publications till two years ago. Now we have been asked to report the data only to Delhi," a senior official admitted.

As against the maximum residual value of 5 ppm fixed for DDT by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, samples from the State contained DDT up to 3 ppm. Though the residual level is below the MRL, the very presence of DDT points to the extent of pesticide contamination in food products.

Studies by the city-based NIN on 68 fruit and vegetable samples and the Pesticide Residue Laboratory of Angrau on scores of samples revealed that most of the fruits and vegetables tested were contaminated with pesticides and insecticides. Agro products like guava, banana and leafy vegetables were relatively free of contaminants.

While NIN conducted tests on 10 varieties of grapes, apples, mangoes, potatoes, beans, carrots and tomatoes, the university laboratory studied lady fingers, tomatoes, mangoes, grapes, brinjals and cauliflower.

The agro products were obtained both directly from fields and from city markets. Vegetables are grown on just three per cent of the total cultivable area in the State and yet the pesticide consumption is as high as 14 per cent. Taking body weight into account, children consume three to 21 times more of these agro products than adults do, exposing them to higher risk.

"The pesticide residues are well within the MRL values. Even these quantities can be eliminated by thoroughly washing the vegetables or fruits. About 90 per cent of the residues can be eliminated from wheat and rice by washing the grains several times. The toxicity or otherwise of these pesticides depend on the acceptable daily intake ratio", NIN deputy director S Babu told Deccan Chronicle.

The studies revealed the presence of harmful chemicals like carbaril, monocrotofos, phosalone, dimethioate, cypermethrin, feneolerate, Melathion, phanpimethane, mithamil, prophenophos, permethrin, metalaxil, diethane M45, ridonil MZ, carbandizam, diophinatemythyl and deltamethrin.

According to Central Integrated Pest Management Centre sources, Guntur, Prakasam, Krishna, Khammam and Warangal districts are notorious for their high intake of pesticides.

Hmmm.

DDT isn't really bad for you (5.00 / 1) (#101)
by snacky on Sun Aug 10, 2003 at 09:25:04 AM EST

DDT is almost completely harmless in humans, even in doses many times larger than what's found in Indian water. Numerous studies have been performed showing with high confidence that it is not even slightly correlated with cancer. Indeed, the original reason DDT became popular in the 1940's was because it was found to be dramatically safer than any other pesticide. During World War II was commonly applied directly to humans as a delousing method, and even as a mosquito repellant. It probably sickened not a single person, there's no doubt that it saved a few people from typhoid fever and mosquito-bourne diseases. More importantly, it's saving a couple million from death every single year due to malaria - most of these lives saved are children, and mostly in India.

Since the publication of Rachel Carson's highly irresponsible and mostly unresearched Silent Spring, voluminous research has debunked nearly all of the negative claims about DDT. The Western world has mostly ignored the new findings, both because we have strong environmental lobbies and because in our countries we can afford more expensive (but less safe) non-persistant pesticides. In the third world, however, it's a life-and-death issue, and some countries do not bow to Western pressure. Check this interesting article for an example of the problem.

As for the other pesticides besides DDT, some of them are bad for humans in large doses and can really fuck with your enzyme processes. In small doses, they may be almost completely harmless, though. It's kind of like cyanide - we need it in order to have any vitamin b12, and it's contained in a wide variety of good food - cherries, almonds, nutmeg, lima beans, and of course Cassava. But in huge quantities it overwhelms your body's cyanide-processing enzyme (rhodanase), and that's when it can kill you. With many pesticides, it's kind of the same way.... except I'm pretty sure there are no pesticides that are used to form vitamins :-)

--
I like snacks

Coke and Pepsi selling Soft Drinks with high pesticide content in india | 103 comments (77 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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