Since this blog has already tainted my enjoyment of coffee, chocolate, chicken, toys, technology, and clothing, I was wondering what I could add to the list of things we love to consume as United Statesians, but destroy our planet and the lives of other people around the world. What could be dearer to the hearts of Atlantans than Coca-Cola?
I most definitely limit my consumption of Coke for nutritional reasons, but have for years sung the praises of its tastiness and unquestionable superiority to Pepsi. What I’m saying is: I drink Coke. But should I? Should you? Does the Coca-Cola company have any skeletons in their closet?
As usual, I shared my desire to ruin Coke for my readers with my husband. As usual, he had something interesting and helpful to share with me: killercoke.org. He often works at the Georgia World Congress Center, which is very close to the World of Coke museum in downtown Atlanta. He told me that he has seen an advertising truck driving around Centennial Olympic park promoting the web site and playing music and messages over loudspeakers to raise awareness about “killer coke.” Hmmm . . . Is this a health issue? Nope. To my incredible surprise, killercoke.org is trying to raise awareness of Coca-Cola bottling plant abuses in Guatemala and Colombia. Further research showed that coke has also created quite a few enemies in India as well. First, the story of Coca-Cola in India:
Coke opened a bottling plant in the Plachimada community in India in 2000. Since then, the companies practices have contributed (greatly) to a lack of water for the community (because Coke’s wells are sucking up all of the water) and pollution (because Coke’s waste and product are toxic). Local farmers have been affected the most. Aside from their water supply being depleted, they are being pandered to by the company by having Coke’s “toxic sludge” marketed to them as fertilizer. This “fertilizer” has been shown to contain high levels of cadmium, a carcinogen that can build up in the kidneys causing serious illness. The cadmium has now spread to the ground water as well. (More here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3096893.stm)
The high levels of pesticides (yes, pesticides) that have been found IN the actual Coca-Cola products in this region have led many farmers to simply spray Coke on their fields rather than purchase the actual pesticides themselves! Other farmers who cannot take watching the destruction of their crops and land have simply resorted to suicide—over 20,000 farmers in Western and Southern India have commit suicide in the last ten years. Not all of these can be blamed directly or only on Coca-Cola, but the company is definitely playing a role in the devastation of this region of our planet. And while the people suffered, Coke’s profits soared since it was withdrawing the water for free and paying very little for waste disposal. (This situation is further detailed here: AIYER, A. (2007). THE ALLURE OF THE TRANSNATIONAL: Notes on Some Aspects of the Political Economy of Water in India Cultural Anthropology, 22, no. 4. And here: http://scienceblogs.com/primatediaries/2010/03/coca-cola_in_india_good_till_t.php)
Stay tuned for the story of violence against union organizers in Latin American bottling plants . . .