Banned in Kerala
Every guy with a wee bit of Leftist imagination loves bashing the colas. Who wouldn’t want to put some salt in the cola fizz and watch it fizzle out- almost infantile are the games that politicians play. A few days ago, even as the LDF government was toying with the idea of banning colas in Kerala because of the high pesticide content, people in Kochi didn’t give a damn- they were guzzling the beverages (read "pesticide-cocktail") to the very last drop and shops were stocking up to cater to the demand. Sources say PepsiCo sells about 20 lakh cases per annum from 30,000 outlets in Kerala. (One case contains 24 bottles). Nothing is known about the Coke sales. And before the ban both the companies maintained their sales had not dipped. The shop-keepers in Kochi confirmed this. One guy said if the people want to drink poison who are we to stop them? “We will sell poison.”
The Left’s coke hysteria is much like the big terrorist attack on the planes from UK to USA that was foiled by Scotland Yard. Thank god for Scotland Yard! This sounds too much like manufactured terror than anything else. Someone on the idiot box said, “This terror attack is despicable.” That’s laughable- the bombings in Lebanon is no terror and not despicable either.
And Thank God for the Left. They took the Fizz off.
But we are missing the larger picture in Kerala. Banning coke is not going to solve the pesticide problem. It aint going to go away. It still persists in the other food items and the ground water.
The PespsiCo ads and the CSE
The PespsiCo advertisements in the media stating that the soft drinks manufactured by it are the safest beverages, with negligible pesticide levels and in compliance with the regulations laid down by the Indian Government have been openly challenged by the Centre for Science and Environment(CSE),Delhi. A press release from CSE accuses them of being ``masters of spin and misleading the Indian public. It is clever copywriting full of half truths.''
Souparno Banerjee, the co-ordinator for media resources CSE told me over the phone,``Following the first CSE report about pesticide levels in soft drinks three years ago, the Bureau for Indian Standards (BIS) had finalized standards for soft drinks in March 2006 after deliberations, but had delayed notifying it. So what regulations is PepsiCo talking about? They have quoted selectively from the Joint Parlimentary Report. For instance while the advertisements tabulate that the pesticides in its Diet Pepsi are `below limit', it conveniently forgets to add that the same sample exceeds the limit for DDT, a banned pesticide by 80 percent.''
``They use data of two brands to say that they are clean but hide the data of three other brands, which indicts them for being unsafe because they do not meet the drinking water standards. The advertised data does not tell you about the individual pesticides, which is even more deadly. Mirinda Lemon exceeded the safe limit of chlorpyrifos by eight times and that of DDT by nine times.''
When it was pointed out that the advertisements say that the pesticides in the soft drinks are negligible compared to other Indian food items like tea, eggs, rice, apple etc.
Banerjee said,``That is not the issue. The issue is that soft drinks are unsafe because of the pesticide content. Safety is defined as meeting standards. We cannot compare milk or apples with soft drinks. Milk is essential and it gives us nutrition but soft drinks are non
essential and non nutritive. They should not have pesticides.''
``Sources in both PepsiCo and Coca-cola point out they do not deliberately put pesticides into their beverages so why are soft drink manufactures being targeted when the larger issue is the pesticide levels in the drinking water?''
Banerjee reacted,``We are not targeting just PepsiCo and Coca-cola. The standards for soft drinks have been finalised by BIS and we are just pointing out that the government has not notified it and the pesticide levels in the drinks have not come down since our first report.''
``Are other food products also being tested for pesticide residue?''
Banerjee said,``Yes, we are researching and testing other food products but I cannot disclose what it is at the moment.''