Coked up

Farmer Gilbert Rodrigo from Tamil Nadu in India spent the WSF marching around telling people not to drink Coke. His list of complaints is long. ‘Coca-Cola are coming to our communities, occupying land and taking the water. About 10 kilometres of land around each factory can’t then be cultivated because the available groundwater is lost, so about 10,000 farmers are left without jobs. Also, the untreated effluent let out by these industries is drunk by our cattle, and many of them have died.’

Rodrigo continues: ‘They come and start new companies and distribute all over the country, so all the small soft-drink makers die out – for every new international soft-drink brand that employs 5,000 people, about 15,000 soft-drink makers are going out of business. Plus, we did a lab analysis in Delhi and we found that dangerous pesticides have found their way into Coke, so we are demanding a ban. The Indian Parliament has banned it, but ironically only for their own use – they want MPs to be safe but they won’t protect the rest of us!’

Gilbert’s message is simple. ‘Don’t drink Coca-Cola – or Pepsi-Cola – products. Encourage local soft-drink makers. Go back to making your own drinks: it’s much safer!’

mag cover This article is from the April 2007 issue of New Internationalist.
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