WSF coverage: International campaign against Coca-Cola hits WSF
The giant multinational softdrinks Coca-Cola Company is in trouble, thanks to the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable for destroying lives, livelihoods and communities. The campaign that was initiated in India puts pressure on the Coca-Cola Company and links human rights, environmental justice and labour rights.
The giant multinational softdrinks Coca-Cola Company is in trouble, thanks to the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable for destroying lives, livelihoods and communities. The campaign that was initiated in India puts pressure on the Coca-Cola Company and links human rights, environmental justice and labour rights. At the Nairobi World Social Forum, communities from India staged the campaign to challenge corporate globalisation.
The forum learnt that the campaign had mobilised villagers in India to confront the arrogance and impunity of the Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola’s largest bottling plant in Plachimada, India, has been shut down since March 2004 due to community opposition. Strong campaigns are underway in Mehdiganj, Kala Dera and Gangaikodan, pushing for the closure of the remaining Coca-Cola plants.
Accused of abuse
The mega-campaign accuses the Coca-Cola bottling plants in India of major human rights abuse, ranging from pollution to water scarcity.
The activists allege that communities living around Coca-Cola’s bottling plants in India are experiencing severe water shortages that are directly a result of the company’s overextraction of groundwater. A government study in the desert state of Rajasthan found that ground water levels had dropped ten metres in just five years since Coca-Cola started its operations.
Pollution of land and water
According to the information released by the activists involved with the anti-Coca-Cola campaign, Coca-Cola Company has severely polluted both the groundwater and the soil around its bottling plants. A government study covering seven Coca-Cola plants found that all plants were generating large amounts of toxic waste. In violation of Indian laws, the waste was not being classified and handled as hazardous waste. In some areas, the company was distributing its toxic waste to farmers as ‘fertilizer!’. In 2004, Coca-Cola Company converted two thirds of the fresh water it used into waste water globally.
Pesticides in drinks
The activists went ahead with their accusations. In 2003 and 2006, studies established that Coca-Cola products in India contain dangerously high levels of pesticides, including DDT, Selinda and Malathion. On average, the pesticide residues were 24 times higher than those recommended by the European Union standards.
Ban on Coca-Cola products
Seven states in India have imposed partial or full time bans on the sale of Coca-Cola products within their territories.
Over twenty colleges and universities in the United Sates and the United Kingdom have stopped doing business with the Coca-Cola Company. The Company has been removed from a major ‘socially responsible’ index and individuals, as well as institutions have made a choice that they will not consume Coca-Cola products. The Campaign’s web site is http://www.CokeJustice.org, while the E-mail address is info at IndiaResource.org
By Magdaline Nkando, Lillian Njogu, Tabitha Mbinya, Dickson Muriuki and Diana Amollo,
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