Monday, October 29, 2007

Killer Coke

The Coca Cola Company has been consistently committing human rights violations around the world. In Plachimada, a small agrarian town in India, Coke built a plant promising jobs for the people in the town. Although the factory held to this agreement in part, it extracted so much of the town's ground water that there was virtually no clean, drinkable water for the people in the town to use. The factory also produced a large amount of waste product, as all manufacturing companies do; and, rather than disposing of it responsibly, Coke decided to give it to the people in the town as fertilizer. The people in the town, who did not know any better, proceeded to use this toxic waste on their crops. After many people in the town had gotten sick and many babies were born with birth defects, they figured out the origin of the illnesses. The people in Plachimada then organized a dilligent, peaceful protest until the Coke factory shut down.

And it doesn't stop there. In Colombia, Coke has been charged with hiring paramilitaries to act violently against anyone who opposes their bottling companies. There are on-going investigations of the murders of many union workers and protestors. Coke has been using similar fear tactics in many other under-developed countries around the world.

In order to "Pay It Forward," we want to Kick Coke off of F&M's campus as the exclusive vendor, following the example of the protestors in Plachimada. We want to use our power as consumers to make a difference and hold Coke accountable for its human rights and environmental transgressions. We can do our part to send a message to Coke by joining the initiative to Kick Coke off College Campuses. Several colleges in the immediate area, including Swarthmore, have already done so, and many other schools are following suit. To get more information check out our blog (linked to the post) and our display in the Atrium which will be up all week. Also, look for emails about the documentary we will be showing in the upcoming weeks.


kathan said...

This issue doesn't have enough visibility and I'm guessing that this fact can be attributed to Coke’s vast amount of power and wealth. Even so, it's amazing to me to think that these many crimes have not permanently tarnished the company's corporate image. I always knew that Coke was not the most responsible of corporations (Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation illuminated for me the connection between Coke and the rise in childhood obesity in America), but I had no idea the extent to which this claim lay. I sincerely hope that F&M students show enough support for this campaign that we are able to stop using Coke as the campus's excusive vendor because what is happening in India is appalling. It's environmental racism at its ugliest, and I feel ashamed that I drink Coke on regular basis, which will certainly stop now that I've read all of these reports on Coke's many crimes.

RobbyCano23 said...

Thank you for enlightening me on this issue. One of the main reasons behind many human rights abuses is money and power. Money is the main reason behind Cokes action. Coke is a gobal company recognized throughout the world. They continue to expand throughout the globe. In order to reap the most benefits Coke takes advantage of small towns, villages and "unimportant people." Coke has so much power and money they will do whatever it takes to keep their empire growing. The ban Coke campaign is a great idea, because they will only stop doing these things when it negatively affects the company.

Nat Zorach said...

I'm afraid that Pepsi is no better than Coke, and demonizing Coke is not going to solve the world's problems. Coke is FAR from the worst corporation that the College has dealings with.

PepsiCo, Sara Lee, ConAgra, and others are on a long list of companies that have some of the worst environmental, labor, and corporate records around. Pepsi has been involved in a large number of questionable dealings in India (as has Coke), and most large food producers are involved in hellfire and brimstone wars with legislators and civic activism groups over GMO foods. The companies I mentioned are some of the biggest lobbying forces in the drive to prevent legislation for mandatory labeling of GMO foods, something I think should have been passed through decades ago.

Let's not just jump on some bandwagon because we read an article-- if you want to ban Coke you're going to have to ban Pepsi, too, along with Jazzmans pastries made from GMO flour, coffee grown by exploited workers, ConAgra beef processed in atrocious unsanitary conditions by illegal immigrants, Champion T-shirts emblazoned with the F&M logo and made in sweatshops, and all of the other day-to-day products that involve horrible, horrible exploitation of someone, somewhere.

Coke is not a good place to start, because by forcing one thing out, you allow something just as bad to come in.


Anonymous said...

While I certainly appreciate your comments, Nat, the one thing I don't see in them is a solution. My partner and I didn't just read "an article" before deciding to campaign against Coke- we did our research. You can laundry list hundreds of companies that have committed human rights and environmental violations in other countries, but no one person can tackle them all.

I don't think boycotting Coke is a negative action, no matter how you want to spin it. Like I said, we did our research and Pepsi is actually better than Coke. While they have committed many of the same atrocities in the past, Pepsi has made major efforts to reform its policies in other countries, as well as agreed to allow independent investigations into its actions overseas.

If you want to help, I think you should try avoiding the products you so passionately describe in your comment, rather than trashing our attempt to do a little good on campus. If you have any CONSTRUCTIVE criticism you would like to offer, I would be more than happy to hear it. I'm glad to see someone so passionate about the transgressions of major companies; I hope you're using that knowledge toward a good cause, such as spreading the word and refusing to buy their products, like we are trying to do with this project.