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Debate: Coca Cola

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This House believes that Cola Cola should have never been invented

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Background and Context of Debate:

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Health concerns: Is coke really harmful?

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Yes

  • Pesticide use. "In 2003, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a non-governmental organisation in New Delhi, said aerated waters produced by soft drinks manufacturers in India, including multinational giants Pepsico and Coca-Cola, contained toxins including lindane, DDT, malathion and chlorpyrifos — pesticides that can contribute to cancer and a breakdown of the immune system. CSE found that the Indian produced Pepsi's soft drink products had 36 times the level of pesticide residues permitted under European Union regulations; Coca Cola's 30 times. CSE said it had tested the same products in the US and found no such residues." [1]


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No

  • Pesticide use. "The Coca-Cola Company has responded that its plants filter water to remove potential contaminants and that its products are tested for pesticides and must meet minimum health standards before they are distributed." [2]


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Business practices: Are Coca-Cola business practices undesirable?

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Yes

  • Coca Cola has been involved in the murder of trade unionists in Columbia. In Columbia, Coca Cola has been accused of colluding with paramilitaries to systematically murder employees involved in trade unions. Sinaltrainal made these charges:
1) A worker was killed inside the Carepa bottling plant, 6 other union leaders were killed by paramilitaries and many more union members have been killed during or approaching negotiations and during industrial action.
2) The bottlers have engaged in union busting, intimidation and harassment of workers.
3) The security manager at the Bucaramanga bottling plant falsely accused union leaders of terrorism which resulted in the workers being imprisoned for 6 months for a crime they didn't commit. At least one was tortured and they were all locked up alongside paramilitaries that were trying to kill them
4) Paramilitaries operated from within the Barrancabermeja plant at a time when attempts were being made on the life of a union leader. Belching Out The Devil - Mark Thomas
Listed below are union leaders at Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling plants who have been murdered. Hundreds of other Coke workers have been tortured, kidnapped and/or illegally detained by violent paramilitaries, often working closely with plant managements.
Date - Name - Coca Cola Plant
1990 - Avelino Achicanoy - Pasto
4/8/94 - Jose Elaseasar Manco David - Carepa
4/20/94 - Luis Enrique Giraldo Arango - Carepa
4/23/95 - Luis Enrique Gomez Garado - Carepa
12/5/96 - Isidro Segundo Gil - Carepa
12/26/96 - Jose Librado Herrera Osorio - Carepa
6/21/2001 - Oscar Dario Soto Polo - Monteria
8/31/2002 - Adolfo de Jesus Munera Lopez - Baranquilla Killer Coke - Crimes
  • Coca Cola has been involved in Union Busting in Istanbul. In 19 May 2005 Coke sacked 5 delivery men for working organizing union activity in the bottling company of Icecek in Istanbul, in which was set up by Coco Cola in tandem with the Anadolu group in Turkey and Coke now owns 20 percent of the shares. The president of the union, president Kucukosmanoolu (punctuation on letters is omitted) said that the whole management of Icecek "is led by coke managers" and that the decisions of "who to hire and fire were all taken by coke managers". Fahrattin and Ahmet, two men who were fired for union organizing, said that "when we went to the management for a wage increase the management said 'Get off my job. Many people would work here in these conditions'". The men began union work after their pay was reduced and their overtime was increased. There were 5 people who attended special clandestine union meetings. These were the same 5 people who were fired.
Then on 20 May another 50 delivery men were sacked at the plant of Dudullu were sacked. All but a couple had been involved in the union. 5 days later 50 unionized delivery men were fired at Icecek's other plant: Yenibosna.
This was all within 68 days of when Coke signed up to the protect and respect trade union rights using the words: "Coca-Cola acknowledges that Coca-Cola workers are allowed to exercise rights to union membership and bargaining without pressure of interference. Such rights are exercised without fear of retaliation, repression or any other form of discrimination". Belching Out The Devil - Mark Thomas
  • Coca Cola uses child labour in El Salvador. A Human Rights Watch report, entitled "Turning A Blind Eye: Hazardous Child Labour In El Salvador's Sugar Cane Cultivation", had this to say: "The Coca-Cola company buys sugar refined at Central Izalco mill"; "At least 9 of the 12 children Human Rights Watch interviewed in the department of Sonsonate worked on 4 plantations that supply sugarcane to Central Izalon. These children ranged in age from 12 to 16. Their testimonies and the accounts of adult workers on those plantations confirmed that those plantations regularly use child labour."; "Coco-Cola's guiding principals apply only to it's direct suppliers, who must not 'employ' or 'use' child labour ... Coca-Cola can itself turn a blind eye to evidence of human rights abuses in its supply chain as long as its direct suppliers do not themselves use child labour"; "In Coca-Cola's case, child labour helped produce a key ingredient in it's beverages bottled in El Salvador." Turning A Blind Eye: Hazardous Child Labour In El Salvador's Sugar Cane Cultivation

Cited in Belching Out The Devil - Mark Thomas

  • Coca Cola has been contaminating water in El Salvador. The Coke bottling plant was moved to Nejapa after it had to be closed down in Soyapango amidst allegations that the company had exploited the area's water supply while the residents only had tap water for 8 hours a day. But there were problems in Nejapa too. Coca Cola dumped it's waste from the bottling plant into the local stream. The local councillor said that "previously the water wasn't polluted. People would come and wash and children would get into the stream and have a swim; then as time went by children would come out of the water with some kind of allergy on their bodies. They were sent to the clinic and that's when they found out it was because of the contamination of the water." This meant that not only did the community not have access to bathing water, but they also didn't have access to drinking water. So the community has to get it's water piped from another part of El Salvador, at their own expense: which is not easy because most peasants in Nejapa earn about $1.50 a day. The contamination also killed the fish in the stream, denying the community of much of it's source of food. Belching Out The Devil - Mark Thomas
  • Coca Cola has been accused of taking over Chiapas. Local activists in Chiapas have claimed the Coca Cola "has pressured local government officials into using preferential zoning laws to allow the privatisation of water resources." "The Chiapas-based Centre for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action (CIEPAC) claims that the Mexican government under Vicente Fox – himself a former President of Coca-Cola Mexico – has given the company concessions to exploit community water resources. Campaigners from around the world have also expressed concern that Coca-Cola is one of the main sponsors of the World Water Forum in Mexico City in March 2006." Water privatization has been extremely harmful to the people of Chiapas. Coca Cola's actions are also helping to undermine the extremely popular Zapatista revolution. Coca Cola: The Alternative Report - War On Want
  • Coca Cola has been dehydrating communities in India. Coca Cola's activities in the Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra have had serious negative impacts on farmers and their local communities.
"Coca-Cola established a bottling plant in the village of Kaladera in Rajasthan at the end of 1999. Rajasthan is well known as a desert state, and Kaladera is a small, impoverished village characterised by semi-arid conditions. Farmers rely on access to groundwater for the cultivation of their crops,but since Coca- Cola’s arrival they have been confronted with a serious decline in water levels. Locals are increasingly unable to irrigate their lands and sustain their crops,putting whole families at risk of losing their livelihoods. At the same time, village wells used for drinking, cleaning, washing and sanitation are now in danger of drying up altogether."
A graph from Rajasthan’s Ministry of Water Resources "shows that water levels remained stable from 1995 until 2000, when the Coca-Cola plant became operational. Water levels then dropped by almost 10 metres over the following five years." That put the water levels at about half of what they were. "Locals now fear that village of Kaladera could become a ‘dark zone’, the term used to describe areas that are abandoned due to depleted water resources", as a result of Coca Cola using all of the water.
"Local villagers near the holy city of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh complain that the company’s over-exploitation of water resources has taken a heavy toll on their harvests and led to the drying up of wells."
"In the now infamous case of Plachimada in the southern state of Kerala, Coca-Cola’s plant was forced to close down in March 2004 after the village council refused to renew the company’s licence,on the grounds that it had over-used and contaminated local water resources. Four months earlier,the Kerala High Court had ruled that Coca-Cola’s heavy extraction from the common groundwater resource was illegal, and ordered it to seek alternative sources for its production."
The depletion of water from a desert region inhabited by poor, and often starving, peasants amounts to a crime against humanity and this is what Coca Cola has done through it's bottling plants. Coca Cola: The Alternative Report - War On Want
  • Coca cola has been contaminating land in India. Coca Cola's plants and factories produce a sludge-like waste as a by-product which they have been giving as "fertiliser" to local farmers in India.
"Tests on the sludge found that it contained dangerous levels of toxic chemicals such as cadmium and lead. In Kerala the contamination spread to the water supply, with levels of lead recorded well above those permitted by the World Health Organisation."
"In 2003 the independent Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) tested Coca-Cola beverages and found levels of pesticides around 30 times higher than European Union standards. Levels of DDT, which is banned in agriculture in India, were nine times higher than the EU limit. In February 2004 Indian MPs who investigated CSE’s studies upheld these findings. The MPs stated that Coca- Cola’s operations had resulted in pollution, depletion of groundwater, reduced yield in crops, skin disorders and other ailments."
This contamination of their land has led to starvation for many Indian peasants who rely on farming for their survival. Coca Cola: The Alternative Report - War On Want
  • Coca Cola has been involved in union Busting in Guatemala. "Guatemalan workers have been struggling against Coca-Cola since the 1970s. In the years between 1976 and 1985, three general secretaries of the union were assassinated and members of their families, friends and legal advisers were threatened, arrested, kidnapped, shot, tortured

and forced into exile."

Despite victory in that earlier struggle, the violations of workers’ rights continue. Café INCASA, owner of Coca-Cola’s plants in Guatemala,is carrying out a union-busting campaign. According to the General Secretary of FESTRAS, the federation of agricultural and beverage unions, this includes the unfair dismissal of 13 Coca-Cola employees in the last four years. Workers and their family members with ties to unions have reportedly been subjected to death threats." Coca Cola: The Alternative Report - War On Want
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No

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Environment: Does Coca-Cola or its production harm the environment?

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Yes

  • Packaging. "Packaging used in Coca-Cola's products has a significant environmental impact, but nevertheless, the company strongly opposes attempts to introduce environment-friendly mechanisms such as container deposit legislation. source,Shareholder Resolution




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See also

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