Two Indian states have recently banned the sale of Coke and Pepsi products at government run schools, colleges, and hospitals. This follows the
announcement of a New Delhi based research group claims that pesticide levels were some 24 times over acceptable Indian limits. There are now nine
Indian states in all that have some sort of ban in effect on Coke and Pepsi. Similar allegations were raised against Coke and Pepsi about three years
ago. Despite the fact that many soft drinks in India have elevated pesticides, PepsiCo claims there products are perfectly safe, while business groups
want the decision reversed, fearing the ban will harm the investment climate.
So far, seven Indian states have banned the sale of Coke, Pepsi, Sprite and other brands from Coca-Cola and PepsiCo at government-run schools,
colleges and hospitals after a New Delhi-based research group said last week that the soft drinks have pesticides levels that far exceed national
But the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry — which together cover more than 90 percent
of Indian businesses — said the moves could hurt the broader economy, slowing foreign investment into the country.
Sales of the two companies have been hit since the Center for Science and Environment said last week that its tests on 57 samples of soft drinks made
by the two companies revealed they contained residues of pesticides 24 times higher than the Indian standards.
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Soft drinks weren't available in schools when I was a kid, and I personally see no reason that they should necessarily be available to children in
school nowadays. For the most part my sentiments are echoed by the housewife in Cochin, Kerala’s port capital who was quoted. “It is a good
decision. My children have been addicts of Pepsi and Coke. Now, I can teach them how to drink water.”
And this is how I feel even without the idea notion that pesticides could exceed legal limits by some 2 and half orders of magnitude. I find it
particularly interesting that corporate and business interests are crying foul, claiming that either the products are perfectly safe, or expressing
concern regarding the 'investment climate.' This is one of those cases where caution should be taken, that is if there's evidence that pesticide
residues are elevated, the burden of proof lies with demonstrating they're not. The ban shouldn't wait until elevated residues are confirmed by a
second test. It seems like common sense to me.
Perhaps it is further noteworthy that Coke and Pepsi officials in India are avoiding journalists, while other international spokespersons are claiming
their products are safe worldwide. Again, the facts aren't
in yet, but in this instance some type of response seems warranted. While the
investment climate is a legitimate concern, it shouldn't take precedence over the health of the general population. Furthermore, corporations
shouldn't balk at their government agencies insisting their products be safe.
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[edit on 11/8/2006 by Mirthful Me]