A report recently released in India by the New Delhi-based Center for the Science and Environment warned that a number of potentially harmful pesticides were found in high levels in samples of Coke and Pepsi. "The levels [of pesticides] in some samples -- for instance, Coca-Cola bought in Kolkata -- exceed the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) norms by 140 times for the deadly pesticide Lindane," the report says. "Similarly, a Coca-Cola sample manufactured in Thane contained the neurotoxin Chlorpyrifos, 200 times the standard."
Pal claims that public outcry over the government's initial report and a later report that galvanized the findings of the first caused many Indian states to ban Coke and Pepsi from government schools, colleges and hospitals. The state of Kerala has completely banned the sodas, Pal says.
Franklin Lavin, the U.S. Undersecretary for International Trade, told Agence France-Presse, "In a time when India is working hard to attract and retain foreign investment, it would be unfortunate if the discussion were dominated by those who did not want to treat foreign companies fairly."
"This is commercial bullying by corrupt U.S. government officials who are conniving to protect powerful corporations at the expense of the health of Indian citizens," said Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and author of The Five Soft Drink Monsters, a guide that teaches readers how to beat soft drink addictions to improve their health and avoid obesity and diabetes.
"That the Bush Administration would insist India must keep selling pesticide-laden beverages to its population is despicable," he added. "It just demonstrates that when business interests collide with public health, the business interests always win. Doesn't India have the right to protect its people from products that its own scientists have found contain cancer-causing chemicals?"
Both Coke and Pepsi have denied high pesticide content in their drinks. The Indian Supreme Court has given the soda manufacturers four weeks to respond to the charges and to disclose the "exact amount of harmful contents in each bottle."