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Downtoearth.org.in - a new kind of cola war

If it wasn't enough that softdrink makers use up precious reserves of ground water (thereby depriving farmers of the same) and spend very little on it, they now wish to have no standards to be set for pesticides in soft drinks. They contend that since vegetables, milk etc already contain pesticide, what harm can a little more of it do?

Three years after releasing the findings on pesticide content in softdrinks, the CSE continues its fight.

Read this, from downtoearth.co.in : The street fight
And read this from The Frontline: Thirst for Profit

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Update: Since this post is attracting more comments, thought I should add some more views on the way the issue is being handled by the cola companies. They seem to have realized that the best way to react to any controversy in India (be it terrorism, flooding in Mumbai etc) is to just keep quiet, and hope that the issue dies a natural death in our collective consciousness.

Secondly, this is also an example of how companies view customers as 'target segments', (who can be fooled into buying a product, leading to increased revenues) instead of actual people. What I would like to see instead is an 'explanation', not a yogic meditative silence on the issue. If you believe that the pesticide content in your product is at acceptable levels, tell us why you think the CSE is wrong, and don't put your US lobbies into overtime duty by threatening that this issue could affect FDI prospects in India.

Thirdly, the argument that there should be standards for inputs in the product (water, sugar etc), but not the final product is illogical. Consumers drink the final product, and not the inputs whatever their level of purity may be. I have noticed pani puri sellers who put up little signboards that say 'Only Aquafina water used for pani puris here'. Surely, we expect better from a multi-billion dollar MNC.

And finally, I am sure other industries too use up ground water. But lets have answers from the soft drink makers first, shall we? I suppose steel and paper contribute in some manner to nation building, whereas softdrinks just corrode teeth, and make people fat. Mangola (Pepsi's mango drink) for instance, contains about 15 grams of sugar per 500 ml, and if I am not mistaken, the dietary requirement of sugar would be about 12 grams for an entire day. (I could be wrong about this last bit though.)

And yes, in case you did not read the Frontline article at the top of this post, do so now. Click here.

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous
    Said

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    don't want to sound like i'm defending a big bad multinational but :

    the pesticide norms exist across the world for various food products. the softdrink companies claim that their inputs : water, sugar (being the biggest) are tested and conform to the standards set. there are no norms for soft-drinks, the cse is probably using the norms they have for drinking water.

    pointing fingers ( at say, pesticide levels in mother's milk ) won't help the already hapless media / pr machines of either company. so i don't think they should be trying that. in either case, one this is definitely clear, both organizations have been reduced to bumbling babies. they haven't been able to respond in any coherent or effective manner to this allegation. they're no multinational monsters with the money to buy filmstars and your soul, like alarmists would have you believe. they've lost sales, image, everything... viability for bottling plants that have been around since ramesh chauhan's time is becoming questionable.

    as for the water usage... i suspect they're right. but i'm yet to see any solid facts on the issue.

    editorial here throws a teeny bit of light.

    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1854552.cms

    ~ sheshank ~

    9:55 PM
  2. gravatar

    I personally don't have much against these giants.

    However, I would however like there to be some barrier on the amount of ground water they use up.

    Secondly, these companies could do what Cadbury's did - which was to admit it goofed up and make visible changes in the packaging (the plastic wrapper) etc, and tell your customers you care. Of course we don't believe that these companies would deliberately feed us more pesticide. It's just that consumers would like the companies to atleast acknowledge the study, and its implications.

    7:51 PM
  3. Anonymous
    Said

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    Regarding the goundwater issue, I guess you do some background research on the water consumption levels by various industries ( I would suggest you start with steel and paper) before you jump to conclusions about groundwater exploitation by cola companies.

    UK

    11:36 AM
  4. Anupama
    Said

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    Whatever is happening is a kind of show.... When the people in power, get their pockets filled,this will stop..

    Exploitation of natural resources is happening all over our country... If not the cola giants.. some one else will do it for sure

    12:32 PM