Coke and Pepsi Being Used as Pesticides in India

Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Environmental Hazards, Food, Drink & Nutrition with 10 Comments

CLN Editor’s Note: The compiled stories provided below are not exactly current news items, as the stories date from 2003-04, but the alarming contents got our attention, and we thought they were still worth sharing.


Farmers tackle pests with colas

coke-pepsi-pesticideBy Alok Prakash Putul in Raipur  | BBC Online

For farmers in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh it is cheaper than pesticides and gets the job done just as well. The product? Pepsi or Coca-Cola.Agricultural scientists give them some backing – they say the high sugar content of the drinks can make them effective in combating pests.Unsurprisingly, Pepsi and Coca-Cola strongly disagree, saying there is nothing in the drinks that can be used in pest control.Cheaper Farmers in the Durg, Rajnandgaon and Dhamtari districts of Chhattisgarh say they have successfully used Pepsi and Coke to protect their rice plantations against pests.

 “ All that is happening is that plants get a direct supply of carbohydrates and sugar which in turn boosts the plants’ immunity ” – Sanket Thakur, agricultural scientist

It is a trend that has been seen in other parts of India, with farmers also using Indian brands of colas. The practice of using soft drinks in lieu of pesticides, which are 10 times more expensive, is gaining so much popularity that sales of the drinks have increased drastically in remote villages. Farmers say the use of pesticides costs them 70 rupees ($1.50) an acre. By comparison, if they mix a bottle of Pepsi or Coke with water and spray it on the crop it costs 55-60 rupees less per acre. Old practice Agricultural specialist Devendra Sharma says farmers are mistaken in thinking that the drinks are the same as pesticides. He says the drinks are effectively sugar syrups and when they are poured on crops they attract ants which in turn feed on the larva of insects.
Mr Sharma says using sugar syrup for pest control is not a new practice. “Jaggery made from sugar cane has been used commonly for pest control on many occasions. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are being used to achieve the same result,” he says. Fellow scientist, Sanket Thakur, has a different explanation: “All that is happening is that plants get a direct supply of carbohydrates and sugar which in turn boosts the plants’ immunity and the plantation on the whole ends up yielding a better crop.” Vikas Kocchar, regional manager for public affairs and communications of Coca-Cola, says claims that the drink can be used as a pesticide have no scientific backing. Anupam Verma, Pepsi sales manager in Chhattisgarh, says sales figures in rural areas of the state have increased by 20%. But he adds: “If there was any truth in these claims then we would rather be selling our product as a pesticide rather than soft drinks. “There is more money in selling pesticides than in selling soft drinks. Their claim smacks of lies. At best it is idle natter.”
Story from BBC NEWS: 2004/11/03 14:39:27 GMT© BBC 2012


Indian Coke, Pepsi Laced with Pesticides, Says NGO

By Ranjit Devraj Inter Press Service August 5, 2003NEW DELHI — One of India’s leading voluntary agencies, the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) said Tuesday that soft drinks manufactured in India, including those carrying the Pepsi and Coca-Cola brand names, contain unacceptably high levels of pesticide residues.The CSE analyzed samples from 12 major soft drink manufacturers that are sold in and around the capital at its laboratories and found that all of them contained residues of four extremely toxic pesticides and insecticides–lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos.”In all the samples tested, the levels of pesticide residue far exceeded the maximum permissible total pesticide limit of 0.0005 mg per liter in water used as food, set down by the European Economic Commission (EEC),” said Sunita Narain, director of the CSE at a press conference convened to announce the findings. The level of chlorpyrifos was 42 times higher than EEC norms, their study showed. Malathion residues were 87 times higher and lindane–recently banned in the United States–21 times higher, CSE scientists said. They added that each sample was toxic enough to cause long-term cancer, damage to the nervous and reproductive systems, birth defects, and severe disruption of the immune system. Samples from brand leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi had almost similar concentrations of pesticide residues in the CSE findings. Contaminants in Pepsi samples were 37 times higher than the EEC limit while its rival Coca-Cola exceeded the norms by 45 times, the same findings showed. The chiefs of the Indian subsidiaries of Coca-Cola and Pepsi were quick to refute the charges made at the press conference. Sanjeev Gupta, president of Coca-Cola India, called the revelations made by CSE “unfair” and said his company was being subjected to a ”trial by media”. “All Coca -Cola products are repeatedly tested for safety norms. This is unacceptable,” he said over the telephone. Gupta and the chief of the Pepsi India, Rajiv Bakshi, have called for an independent inquiry led by India’s top scientists to settle the issue. Coca-Cola, the world’s “most valuable brand” at $70 billion, is already defending charges made by British Broadcasting Corp Radio 4 last month that waste sludge distributed to farmers from its plant at Plachimada in southern Kerala state has high concentrations of the toxic metal cadmium. In a joint press conference by Pepsi and Coke here Tuesday evening, Bakshi and Gupta said they were contemplating legal action against the CSE because the revelations had harmed the industry. “We expect a temporary setback for about a week or so and then we are sure the consumers will have the same confidence in us they have always shown,” said Bakshi. But Narain said the CSE stood by its findings. Six months ago, CSE announced findings that nearly all bottled mineral water manufactured in India, including brands owned by Pepsi and Coca-Cola had large amounts of pesticides. This led to a massive government crackdown. At the time, Delhi state health minister A K Walia, a qualified physician himself, upheld the CSE findings and its laboratory. “They (CSE) are using sensitive, internationally accepted methods,” he said. CSE scientists H. B. Mathur and Sapna Johnson, who were present at the press conference, said their basic inference was that, as with the bottled mineral water, the soft drink manufacturers were drawing their water supplies from groundwater that is heavily contaminated by years of indiscriminate pesticide use. High pesticide residues were reported in groundwater around Delhi two years ago, when the government’s Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) carried out a study which also reported excessive salinity, nitrate and fluoride content besides traces of lead, cadmium and chromium. Independent surveys have shown that tap water in the capital drawn from the Yamuna river and treated by Delhi Jal Board, the state-owned water utility, was loaded with bacteria that can cause cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. It also contained unacceptable amounts of solids and dissolved matter. Narain said it was not easy to take the companies to court because they hide behind a “meaningless maze” of government regulations concerning the manufacture of soft drinks, which are completely ineffective and designed to help the soft drink industry rather than consumers. The Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act of 1954 and the Fruit Products Order (FPO) of 1955–both aimed at regulating the quality of contents in beverages – do not even provide scope for regulating pesticides in soft drinks. Lax standards on food products are cited as one reason why India has not been able to make a dent in the international market. Last week, a European agency ordered alerts on chili powder imported from India because samples were found to be adulterated with banned carcinogenic dyes. Significantly, the CSE laboratories tested samples of soft drink brands popularly sold in the United States as control–and found that they did not contain any pesticide residue. In 2001, Indians consumed over 6.5 billion bottles of soft drinks Their growing popularity means that children and teenagers, who glug these bottles, are drinking a toxic potion, activists say. CSE found that the regulations for the powerful and massive soft drinks industry are much weaker, indeed non-existent, as compared to those for the bottled water industry. The norms that exist to regulate the quality of cold drinks are inadequate, leaving this “food” sector virtually unregulated. So pampered is the lucrative soft drink sector that it is exempted from the provisions of industrial licensing under the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. A one-time licence from the ministry of food processing industries includes a no-objection certificate from the local government as well as the state pollution control board, and a water analysis report. There are no environmental impact assessments or sitting regulations, so the industry’s use of water is not regulated. FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.   Source

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  1.' Canadianlady says:

    Simple soap and water kills many garden pests, but you don’t hear calls to end bathing with soap and water. Mayonnaise will kill earwigs. Cinnamon wards off ants. Lemon juice kills them, too. Oh, let’s ban all those things. NOT!

  2.' Krish says:

    Continue to Sell or ban it, farmers using Pepsi as pesticides with good results. You know what you are drinking!!.

  3.' canadianboy says:

    Canadianlady, you’re so stupid

  4. Must be a sweet crop with al those sugar out of the coke.

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