Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Update
Killer Coke Movement Growing in UK and USA
April 7, 2006 Newsletter
Inside the Newsletter
*** Important: Alert on April 19 Coke Shareholders' Meeting ***
- Momentum grows against Coke during and after NUS conference
- University of East Anglia students pass referendum to kick Coke off campus
- Woodcraft Folk (Global Village) bans Coke at 5000-strong camp
- Another public New York school removes Coke products due to human rights abuses
- Brooks Howell Home, a retirement Facility, removes Coke machine
- Anthropologists resolve ban on Coke
- Galway City Council supports Colombia's Coca-Cola workers
- Campus Updates
- kanalB, "Video: The 'Permanent Tribunal of the People' and other video clips on Colombia"
- UK Indymedia reports on Coca-Cola FEMSA discrimination suit
- News from the Polaris Institute
- Carcinogen Benzene in Coke's Fanta and Other Soft Drinks
- Companies that appear to be doing the most are the ones under intense pressure
- Do you need a customized Campaign leaflet?
- Campaign's 'Campus Activism' Section
- Take Actions Against Coke!
- Please send photos, reports of events, etc. for the Campaign website
*** Important: Alert on April 19 Coke Shareholders' Meeting ***
Send Us the Names of Student Representatives to Attend the April 19 Coke Shareholders' Meeting
We will try to get a student representative from each campus into the Coke shareholders' meeting on April 19. That person should be prepared to send a strong message to Coke's CEO, its Board of Directors and hundreds of shareholders inside the meeting. Please send us the name of your representative so that we can prepare the proxy paperwork. If you know anyone who holds Coca-Cola stock and you can use their proxy, please let us know of your plans.
Stockholders should have received their notice of the annual meeting and proxy card by now from The Coca-Cola Co. If you are not able to attend the annual meeting and would like to help the Campaign, we would like your proxy assigned to us so that others can attend. You can contact us at (718) 852-2808 or info@KillerCoke.org and we will explain how to transfer your proxy. If proxyholders plan to attend the shareholders' meeting and would like to join protest activities, please contact us.
This year's annual meeting will be again held at the Hotel Du Pont on April 19 beginning at 10:30 am in Wilmington, Delaware.
Leading up to the National Union of Students' conference held in Blackpool, England, March 28 through 30, most felt that UK Students Against Coke (UKSAC) would not have a chance to win the vote to dump Coke from hundreds of student unions at nearly all the colleges and universities in the UK. In fact, there were many who felt that they would not even make a decent showing.
The reported vote was close — losing 300 to 259 — perhaps the actual vote was a different story. The big story of the day was not the final outcome of the vote, but that nearly half of the representatives of all the student unions covering more than 5 million students in the UK, wanted Coke off their campuses and vowed to carry on the struggle to dump Coke — campus by campus.
At the conference, UKSAC was joined by Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers, United Students Against Sweatshops National Organizer Camilo Romero and India Resource Center Coordinator Amit Srivastava — all of whom traveled over from the United States.
In the days leading up to the conference, Ray had spoken and corresponded with a number of the NUS executive board members who were very supportive of kicking Coke out of the student unions. Some were concerned with what beverage companies could replace Coke, which UKSAC was prepared to answer.
During the conference, some executive board members and the president of NUS parroted Coke's misinformation and propaganda nearly word for word provided them by the IUF and three unions in the UK affiliated with the IUF — Amicus, TGWU and GMB. One activist, Bertie Thomas, said: "They claimed that the federation of Colombian trade unions oppose the Boycott. This is utter nonsense — the guy they quoted resigned a few weeks ago to chair a group set up by a multi-million dollar grant from Coke. The current acting President and the Vice-President have both publicly announced support for the Boycott. They get away with telling lies on the conference floor in the interest of 'decorum.' "
As hundreds of student representatives from throughout the UK signed into the conference on Tuesday, March 28, they were greeted and handed literature. Many who came by the UKSAC stall were given t-shirts, buttons and literature provided by UKSAC, Colombia Solidarity Campaign, India Resource Center, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and War on Want. On Wednesday night, leaflets were slipped under the doors of all the rooms in all the hotels where delegates were staying.
It was clear that many delegates were unaware or only vaguely familiar with the Coke issues. By the second day of the conference, support and momentum to kick Coke off campuses was growing at a rapid pace and NUS leaders chairing the convention were becoming increasingly alarmed.
From then on, every effort was made to limit discussion and debate on the Coke issue and to violate the democratic process in order to make sure UKSAC did not win the vote.
Ray Rogers learned on Tuesday that he was scheduled to address the entire conference on Wednesday evening. Ray was escorted to the podium area at 10:15 pm and was told that he would be the last item on the agenda and would be introduced at about 10:45. Ray was informed at about 10:30 that his time would be cut from eight minutes to 5 minutes. At about 10:45, business on the floor was quickly terminated and delegates released from the convention floor.
As conference delegates were streaming out of the auditorium, Delegate Dan Glass, president-elect of Sussex University, ran to the podium outraged at what was taking place, i.e., trying to prevent Ray from speaking. A NUS rep, sitting at a table next to the podium, argued that Ray could not speak, even though he was listed as a guest speaker.
Watching everyone leaving the auditorium, Ray stepped up to the microphone and about 125 delegates who were the last ones on their way out, returned. As Ray spoke, the students were all standing and cheering. NUS's president Kat Fletcher was seen signaling others to cut Ray off, which they tried to do by telling him after three minutes that his time was up. Ray turned and said: "I still have a couple of minutes and I'm going to finish." The microphone was turned off. That did not stop Ray, who finished his speech to the cheers of the standing students.
After Ray's presentation, several NUS delegates and staff apologized to Ray for the shoddy treatment accorded him. One delegate came up and said: "I never change my vote, but tomorrow I'll change it and vote for the resolution to boycott Coke."
The next day, the scandalous behavior of some leaders at the NUS conference continued. Discussion on Boycott Coke motions was stifled. The vote was taken and many delegates felt that the show of hands favored the UKSAC position. After the vote was announced, there was a call for a recount, but the chair of the meeting immediately ordered the doors opened, thus prohibiting and preventing a recount. If the convention had been properly and democratically run, it is highly likely that the UKSAC's position would have prevailed.
After the conference, Delegate Gy Harness wrote to Ray: "I met you on Wednesday night at the Melville Hotel. I just wanted you to know that I am saddened by today's vote, and disgusted with your treatment when speaking. I will always remember how you carried on, to the cheers of surrounding delegates. I will do my very best to ban coke from my college campus, and also from my place of work. Please continue with your work in the UK; there are people who care and they will listen."
As one delegate concluded: "We should all be very proud that it was lost by filibustering and complete nonsensical sh*tness and not because of the quality and background of the argument."
After the conference, Daniel Randall, NUS National Executive, said: "At the end of the day, it was a close call. But campaigners should be proud at the massive grass-roots support they've built over the last year, and despite the strength of the opposition within the Executive."
The Phoenix (Swarthmore College), "NUS rejects plan for Coke boycott," By David Lau, April 6, 2006
"As part of Kick Coke, I am disappointed but not disheartened," Ruth Schultz '09 said. "[The motion] was a potential step forward in the campaign to cut contracts with Coke, and though the NUS did not take that step, student groups all over the UK are still working to put pressure on Coca-Cola to be held accountable for its environmental and labor rights abuses all over the world. I don't see it as a setback, just a missed opportunity."
2. University of East Anglia Students pass referendum to Kick Coke off campus
Students at the University of East Anglia (population: 14,000) in Norwich, England, voted in a campus-wide referendum on April 16th to kick Coke off their campus only one week after the National Union of Students (NUS) conference. This is a major blow to Coca-Cola and those leaders of the NUS who are making every effort to undermine such actions. We congratulate the student organizers who tirelessly did a great job distributing flyers and speaking to other students one-on-one about the issues.
"Following a proposal from Derwent District Woodcraft Folk in Sheffield, England, the Steering Committee has declared that Coca-Cola products are not welcome at the GV2006 site."
"Global Village 2006 is an international camp hosted by the Woodcraft Folk (a radical version of the Scouts, with roots in the labour and cooperative movement), to take place in Kent from 29 July to 9 August. Delegations from over 40 countries are expected; campers from outside of the UK are expected to make up around one third of the 5000-strong camp. The decision of the camp organisers to ban Coca Cola has a potential significance, which extends beyond the camp — the youth taking part can be won to taking this campaign back to the regions of the UK and back to their countries of origin. We'll be thinking how to build on this success — please get in touch if you have any connections with Woodcraft. email@example.com
"Camp Coke Ban
"Following a proposal from Derwent District Woodcraft Folk in Sheffield, the Steering Committee has declared that Coca-Cola products are not welcome at the GV2006 site.
"This includes two elements: The central organisation of the Festival will not supply any Coca-Cola products to villages or through the various cafes and other outlets, and everyone attending the camp is being notified of this decision Participants are asked not to bring their own Coke products to the camp.
"There may be many people reading this who are wondering why this action is being taken. We are supporting a worldwide labour movement boycott of Coca-Cola because of allegations about the company's violent anti-Trade Union behaviour in Colombia.
"The Woodcraft Folk is an educational movement for children and young people, which aims to develop self confidence and activity in society, with the aim of building a world based on equality, friendship, peace and co-operation.
"Through the Global Village programme, young people will explore ways in which such a human-centred, democratic approach to future peace, development, and justice can be constructed by children and young people. "
"In Guilderland, the district removed Coca-Cola products from a school at the behest of the Guilderland Teachers Association, the result of a NYSUT Representative Assembly resolution."
5. Brooks Howell Home, a Retirement Facility, Removes Coke Machine
Brooks Howell Home, a retirement facility for Methodist Missionaries in Asheville, North Carolina, removed its Coke machine and replaced it with another machine after extensive discussion about Coke's human rights abuses in Colombia.
Anthropologists Call on Coke to End Labor and Human Rights Violations
As of this posting, the Association for Feminist Anthropology, the Anthropology and Environment Section, the Labor Relations Commission, the Society for the Anthropology of North America, the Society for Latin American Anthropology, the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, the Society for the Anthropology of Work, the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational Anthropology, and the Society for Visual Anthropology have adopted the following resolution:
RESOLUTION REGARDING A BOYCOTT OF COCA-COLA PRODUCTS
WHEREAS, trade unionists at Coca-Cola plants in Colombia have been assassinated, harassed, and intimidated by right-wing paramilitaries, and
WHEREAS, the wives, children, and relatives of SINALTRAINAL leaders have been targeted by these paramilitaries, and
WHEREAS, eyewitness accounts and circumstantial evidence support the conclusion that company personnel have organized the murder and intimidation of Coca-Cola workers, and
WHEREAS, paramilitary groups operate unhindered, and often in collusion, with the government and foreign corporations as an anti-union force, and
WHEREAS, the U.S. government provides billions of dollars to the Colombian government in mostly military aid, and
WHEREAS, these actions deprive Colombian workers of their internationally recognized rights to organize into unions and bargain collectively, and
WHEREAS, no professional organization of social scientists concerned with labor and human rights should offer its credibility to the Coca-Cola Company by distributing its products,
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the [the AAA sections listed above] will:
- ban all Coca-Cola products from its functions and annual meetings and calls upon the American Anthropological Association to do the same,
- communicate to the Coca-Cola Company that until the situation involving SINALTRAINAL is resolved and the safety and rights of workers in its bottling plants are protected, SAW will support SINALTRAINAL's boycott of the Coca-Cola Company and do all it can to publicize the boycott, and
- demand that the Coca-Cola Company a) make a public declaration in Colombia that paramilitary violence against unionists must stop, b) create a company policy against collaboration with paramilitaries, c) establish a human rights ombudsman in every plant, and d) provide compensation to the victims, and
- call upon the United States government to stop military aid to the Colombian government until the perpetrators of human rights crimes are held accountable.
7. Galway City Council supports Colombia's Coca-Cola Workers
The Noel Browne Branch of Labour Youth in conjunction with Labour Councilor Billy Cameron submitted a motion to Galway City Council calling for solidarity with Coca-Cola workers in Colombia. On Monday April 3rd, the motion was passed unanimously. This is another significant step forward for the Boycott Coke Campaign in Ireland.
- Galway City Council notes the campaign initiated by the SINALTRAINAL trade union concerning workers rights and issues in the Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia.
- Galway City Council expresses solidarity with the workers in this country and supports the international campaign launched by SINALTRAINAL in July 2003 in the sense of the right to join a union.
(Galway is one of the five largest cities in Ireland.)
A. India Resource Center Challenges Truth of Coca-Cola's Advertisements in Newspapers of College Campuses.
In response to ads that Coke is placing in newspapers of colleges with campaigns against Coca-Cola, Amit Srivastava, coordinator of the India Resource Center, issued a response to Coke's propaganda regarding its activities in India.
Read the response.
B. Claremont colleges
This is an update from the Claremont Colleges in California — Pomona, Claremont, Mckenna, Scripps, Pitzer, and Harvey Mudd. We organized a teach-in on Mar. 30 and twenty new people were in attendance. We are currently planning an awareness concert with three bands to be held on April 15. We are still raising funds for it, but we have received enormous support from other groups on campus so far.
C. College of Charleston
College of Charleston Gets Coke's attention
An update from a student leader:
"I doubt that Neville Isdell ever read my email I sent last year after first learning about Coca-Cola's atrocious abuses. At any rate, no one deemed it worthy of reply until now.
"Students at College of Charleston have begun a campaign to break their contract with Coke. The students produced t-shirts that said: "Coca-Cola Kills ask me how," passed around flyers about Coke's injustices, put up signs and caution tape, held informative documentary sessions and set up an email list. They also got a copy of the school's contract with Coke and began collecting signatures on a petition to bring to the Student Government and the Faculty Senate to support resolutions against Coca-Cola. Students from Amnesty International and International Affairs Club have been openly working on this campaign since August. We initiated contact with Auxiliary Services from the very beginning, but by the time a meeting was arranged, material was already waiting for us from Coca-Cola (perhaps to inform the misdirected youths). Auxiliary Services also, apparently, ordered people refilling the machines to tear down our signs because they were "hurting business."
"We held a forum with USAS National Organizer Camilo Romero and around 75 students and faculty members attended, including several from The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. Shortly after these activities, the Student Government Association passed our resolution with an almost unanimous vote and now, suddenly, Coca-Cola deems our concerns worthy of attention.
"On Monday, April 10th, the Director of Interactive Communications, Kari Bjorhus, and the Public Affairs and Communications Manager for Colombia, Pablo Largacha, are flying up from Atlanta in hopes of quelling growing student concern. They want a chance to present their case since we have been presenting ours. For some reason, they refuse to enter into any open debate "
D. Harvard University
"Wielding signs supporting Harvard workers, shaking Pepsi and Dr. Pepper can noisemakers, and pounding makeshift drums, nearly 40 demonstrators marched in a circle outside the Holyoke Center yesterday, demanding that Harvard discontinue its Coca-Cola contract and provide better working conditions for Harvard's employees."
The Harvard Crimson, "Group Protests Coke Contest," By Benjamin L. Wientraub, April 5, 2006
Campaign update from Harvard's Student Labor Action Movement:
"Two days ago we had an action/march, to which about 40 people turned up. While it wasn't exclusively about Coke (we're in the midst of a general "right to organize" campaign , in which divesting from Coke and cutting contracts are two of our 5 demands), we stopped at the offices of Harvard University Dining Services and spoke about Coke. All in all, it went very well. We've been trying to meet with the administration, but have been denied access/sent on the run-around (a month ago, they replied to a letter of ours by telling us that they planned on "replying substantively" in the future — we're still waiting). This protest was part of our escalation. Separately, some Republican bloggers on our campus recently posted a "refutation" of the charges made against Coke. Unfortunately for them, since they took their info directly from cokefacts.org, one of our members replied very extensively. Hopefully, the whole episode will help us recruit students. A few of us are also planning on attending the April 19th shareholder's meeting.
E. Loyola Academy
A senior at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, Illinois, contacted us. She had been involved in Amnesty International throughout high school, which is how she became aware of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. She also participated in the School of the Americas protest in Georgia at which she met activists from the campaign. Students at Loyola are currently working to remove all Coca-Cola products from their school. They have been organizing a campaign, complete with a blog that is fairly successful. You can check it out here.
An email from Loyola (April 5):
"Our group at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL, did a presentation last night to about 125 students and faculty about Killer Coke. We have started a petition to remove Coke from our school which we introduced last night at the event."
Photographs from the Loyola presentation:
Students in the auditorium
F. Macalester College
"Last year, Macalester College decided not to renew an exclusive contract with Coke. Then, on March 1, the school's Social Responsibility Committee voted unanimously to recommend banning Coca-Cola products from school Macalester President Brian Rosenberg is expected to decide soon whether to accept the committee recommendation and impose the ban."
Star-Tribune, "Let's hear it for students who care about citizenship: One might take issue with a stand of student activists, but it's unfair to write them off as thoughtless, self-serving or insincere," By Macalester College President Brian Rosenberg, April 6, 2006
"I know many of the activist students at Macalester. When they're not lobbying for particular causes they are participating in hurricane relief trips to the Gulf Coast, doing volunteer work with local community organizations, studying history, philosophy and political science, and otherwise taking seriously Macalester's stated belief in the importance of service and in education as enhancing the public good. I'd rather have students who care about citizenship, even ones with whom I sometimes disagree, than students more indifferent or narrowly self-interested."
Grand Forks Herald (Associated Press), "Macalester College considers joining Coke boycott" March 27, 2006
Star Tribune, "Macalester may join campus Coke boycott," By Heron Márquez Estrada, March 27, 2006
G. Manhattanville College
Coca-Cola had confirmed with Manhattanville College, in Westchester, NY, that the Company would send two representatives to speak at a forum to address the human rights abuse issues surrounding Coke. After learning that Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers would be speaking at the forum and anxious to debate Coke representatives, Coke informed the organizers that Coke would not appear because "it would not be a productive meeting if Rogers attended."
It's too bad that Coke wasn't available for the April 7 David Rovics event at the college at which he most likely will sing his song, "Coke is the Drink of the Death Squads."
H. University of Connecticut
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers and Derek Baxter of the International Labor Rights Fund spoke at the University of Connecticut during the past month. During meetings with students, administrators and the student government, the issue of the illegitimacy of the UN's International Labour Organization's "investigation" was raised because of the relationship of Coke's Director of Global Labor Relations Ed Potter and the ILO.
"Coca Cola and their supporters would have you believe that this is simply a Colombian problem. Then why do similar events happen at their plants in Turkey, Indonesia and India? Money. Fearful workers make less money than organized workers do. Implementing a worldwide system to protect their workers and the environment costs more than some overtime for their public relations staff. Coca Cola will tell you they have no control over these plants, that they do not own them — this is only partially true; they simply do not own a majority share. Also, imagine a foreign bottling plant changing the cans they use to blue — think Coca Cola would let that slide? Coca Cola forced the owners of a plant in Guatemala to sell it after public outcry over worker abuse in 1983. Indifference became too costly, and they exerted their power. This is our goal — to increase the cost of inaction and give corporate leaders incentive to put people's lives ahead of their own finances."
The Daily Campus (University of Connecticut), "There Is No Anti-Coke Movement, By Rob Helmuth, April 4, 2006
BREAKING NEWS: New York Times, "To Some in Hartford, Coke Is a Real Evil Thing," By Stacey Stowe, April 7, 2006
"Two Democratic leaders, Donald E. Williams Jr., the Senate president pro tem, and Richard Blumenthal, the state attorney general, held a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday to accuse the company of 'unconscionable practices' in pushing sugary beverages in the schools. A pediatrician was on hand to note the link between soda and childhood obesity and diabetes. Two mock-ups depicted oversize beverages. In one of them, three people, presumably lobbyists, were grinning behind a large bag of cash.
"Mr. Williams said Coca-Cola was paying lobbyists 'hundreds of thousands of dollars' to dissuade legislators from supporting a bill banning the sale of carbonated beverages, including diet sodas; sugary drinks and junk food, in the state's public schools.
" 'It's a cynical marketing ploy,' Mr. Williams said. 'They want to brand into the minds of our children the Coca-Cola name and brand.' "
Read Full Article
I. University of Minnesota
"The case against Coca-Cola is strong, and the fact that the company refuses to participate in independent investigations is a sign that it has more to hide. It is an embarrassment to the University that just because Coca-Cola gives us a few grants and scholarships, we, as an institution, are willing to overlook its human-rights abuses. At what cost do we overlook our values?"
The Minnesota Daily, "Editorial: U must take a hint from Macalester: The University must demand ethical practices from Coca-Cola," April 3, 2006
J. University of Vermont
"A newly formed student group, the Coalition for a Responsible Coca-Cola (CRC), recently kicked off a campus-wide campaign against the soft drink giant. Working in conjunction with several national organizations, including United Students Against Sweatshops and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, CRC is modeling its efforts after similar drives at other colleges and universities around the country."
Seven Days, "Students Campaign to Kick Coke Off Campus (University of Vermont), By Ken Picard, March 22, 2006
Read Full Article
9. kanalB, "Video: The 'Permanent Tribunal of the People' and other video clips on Colombia"
Videoclips — deutsch
Watch video Clips — English
"The 'Permanent Tribunal of the People' is inspired by the Russel-Tribunal. It appears when the state is incapable to punish violations of human rights, as it happens right now in Colombia. 97% of all violations on human rights are not being punished. On April 1 and 2, 2006, the Colombian section of the Tribunal will take place in Bogotá. The Topics of this tribunal will be the crimes of transnational corporations concerning their involvement with the paramilitary forces and state terrorism in Colombia. The corporations Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Chiquita Brands are in the dock. Other topics will be gold, oil, coal, biodiversity and public services. The tribunal, casted with renowned lawyers, will come to a judgment in July 2008."
10. UK Indymedia Reports on Coca-Cola FEMSA Discrimination Suit
Indymedia UK, "Gay Mexican Executive Clears Legal Hurdle vs. Coca-Cola Femsa," From Notigay.com, March 8, 2006
The first and second phase of the civil suit brought by fired executive Roberto Mendoza vs Coca-Cola FEMSA, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company, has resulted in a ruling for Mendoza, who accuses the company of discrimination due to his sexual orientation.
"During this period, I was continually harassed at work; all my actions and decisions were being scrutinized and questioned. On October 12, I was finally fired, later this firing was doctored up to look like a resignation," Mendoza says.
"I held four different posts in the company, through which I was able to save them more than 40 million dollars," declares Mendoza. "I took part in the development of New Businesses and the Company's Operations abroad, until the Human Resources Corporate Director — Mr. Eulalio Cerda — decided to restrict and prevent any and all of my future promotions because of my sexual orientation."
"While I am head of the Human Resources Department at Coca Cola FEMSA, I will not have a faggot as one of its Directors," said Eulalio Cerda-Delgadillo.
The Supreme Court of Panamá ordered Coca-Cola to pay a $300,000 fine and to clean up a river and the Bay of Panamá. In April 2003, the company was cited for spilling 4,500 litres of chemical colouring used in the production of their products. The chemicals spilled by the company turned the water red causing "visual impact, contaminated water, negative impact to marine and terrestrial flora and fauna", according to Panamá's National Environmental Authority (ANAM). At the time of the incident Coke asked the Supreme Court to declare ANAM's fine illegal. Eventually the company agreed to the fine, but still has yet to pay
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has partnered with Dannon in a campaign designed to promote fluorinated bottled water for children. Spring! Fluoridated Spring Water is the Dannon product associated with the campaign. The irony of the association becomes apparent when we realize that Dannon Fluoridated Spring Water is actually a Coke product. In August 2005, Coke completed the purchase of Danone Waters North America Inc. (DWNA), thus becoming the sole owners of DWNA and responsible for their bottled spring and source water business in the United States.
This is not the first time the AAPD has sold out to Coke. In 2003 the company donated $1 million dollars to the Academy prompting The Center for Science in the Public Interest to say that the AAPD "is burnishing the reputation of a company whose products cause tooth decay, obesity, and other health problems in children". The AAPD's newest relationship with Dannon, regardless of the name on the bottle, will end up promoting Coke; the company that helps pediatric dentists pay the bills.
When the US House of Representatives passed a bill on March 8, to create uniform food labels nationwide, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé USA, and the International Bottled Water Association were literally and figuratively behind the policy. All four are members of the National Uniformity for Food Coalition, a lobby group set up to pressure the United States government to pass the National Uniformity for Food Act, in what the lobbyists say is a move aimed at simplifying food labels. In reality, however, the act will eliminate over 200 state food safety laws and, in the words of a critic of the measure, "keep the public from knowing about the harm they may be exposed to in food." Under the bill, any state that wants to keep tougher standards will have to ask permission from the Food and Drug Administration, but such requests may be turned down under trade law.
With the new legislation bottled water companies would no longer have to warn consumers about arsenic, benzene or other dangerous elements in their products. In California, for example, the state's Proposition 65, a law requiring labeling of substances that may cause cancer or birth defects, would be undone. In the past, Proposition 65 has forced bottled water companies to cut arsenic levels in their products.
Additional concerns regarding benzene in soft drinks have been raised by Senators who will be debating and voting on the bill before it becomes law. One Democratic staffer commented, "Given these benzene findings, this is not a recipe for quick action. It's hard to see the Senate launching into action on this given the concerns raised in the House and the push by the soft drink companies" to pass the bill.
However, the lobby machinery behind the bill is powerful and could succeed. The bottled water industry, through the National Uniformity for Food Coalition used its financial clout and political influence. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, members of the Coalition have contributed more than $3 million to members of the House of Representatives in the 2005-2006 election cycle. This is a small price to pay in order for the bottlers to save millions on labeling and adequate testing. If the bill is passed, the greatest costs will be carried by consumers, through increased risks to their health.
"A lot of bottled water is no better than tap water, and the people bottling it know it If you can sell somebody something without spending money, and they'll buy it, you sell it to them. I'm just being honest" Jerry Smith, Chief Executive Officer of LeBleu, a North Carolina based bottled water company quoted in The News and Observer, March 28, 2006
12. Carcinogen Benzene in Coke's Fanta and Other Soft Drinks
Recently there has been media attention upon the concern that the carcinogen benzene occurs in various soft drinks, including Coke's Fanta Orange.
AltrNet, "Hard Times for Soft Drinks," By Michael Blanding, March 13, 2006
"A decade and a half later, benzene has turned up again. The FDA has found levels in some soft drinks higher than what it found in 1990, and two to four times higher than what's considered safe for drinking water Benzene can show up in soft drinks when two common ingredients react: ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C, and either sodium benzoate or potassium benzoate. Both are preservatives used to prevent the growth of bacteria."
YNetNews, "Lawsuit: Coca Cola drinks may cause cancer," By Vered Luvitch, April 3, 2006
Read Article "In request to file NIS 200 million class action suit plaintiff claims Fanta brand soft drinks contain ingredient that may cause cancer and are not suitable for drinking."
Beverage Daily, "Authorities under pressure over benzene in soft drinks," By Chris Mercer, March 3, 2006
Health24.com, "Cancer in a Can," By Carine van Rooyen, March 2, 2006
" the Environmental Working Group, which published a similar report on drinks produced in the United States, advised consumers to make a point of avoiding soft drinks and juices that contain both ascorbic acid and sodium benzoate because of the possible danger of ingesting benzene. In higher quantities, benzene is a highly toxic, hazardous substance and a known human carcinogen. The question is now whether lifetime, chronic exposure to small quantities of benzene could increase a person's risk for cancer."
13. Companies that appear to be doing the most are the ones under intense pressure, "Food Industry: Diet, Physical Activity and Health," Report by Lang, Rayner & Kaelin, Centre for Food Policy, City University, London
Guardian Unlimited, "World's top 25 food firms 'pathetic' in combating unhealthy diets: Study finds companies fail to live up to their pledges; Makers, retailers and restaurant chains accused," By Felicity Lawrence, April 4, 2006
" 'Their performance is by and large pathetic," said Tim Lang, one of the authors of the report, The Food Industry: Diet, Physical Activity and Health. 'The companies that appear to be doing the most are the ones under intense pressure because their product ranges are the unhealthiest, but there is a whiff of desperation about what they are doing rather than long-term commitment to better food.' "
Read Full Report
The Environmental Working Group is urging for the FDA to address the problem of benzene in soft drinks. They are urging people to sign the below petition.
Please click on this LINK, and sign their creative petition.
14. Do you need a customized Campaign leaflet?
In mid-September, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke sent out a bulletin that listed links to customized leaflets for numerous colleges. We invited supporters to contact us to "customize a leaflet for your campus, union or group." The response was terrific! We immediately began getting emails asking us to produce customized leaflets for numerous colleges, universities, high schools and middle schools. We put them up as soon as we could. We have leaflets for Australia, Canada, Colombia (in Spanish), India, Ireland, the UK and the US.
If you would like a customized leaflet, please contact us at info@KillerCoke.org. Please state the name of your school and the name of the sponsoring group and a local email address, if you want us to put them into the flyer. If you want the flyer for a group, please state the name of the group and an email address. Also, whenever you email the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, please include a phone number, if possible, in case we have a need to talk with you.
15. Campaign's 'Campus Activism' Section
Students have been writing us from schools interested in beginning a Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. We recommend that students begin by checking out the two organizing packets in our "Campus Activism" section:
- "Unthinkable! Undrinkable! A Campus Campaign Overview," a USAS Campus Guide
- Campus Activism Packet — Campaign for a Coca-Cola Free Campus
- Schools Active in the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
In addition, there are numerous reports, resolutions and articles in the "Campus Activism" section that can be useful to students.
- Send an e-mail to Coke to protest their abuses in Colombia
- Call Coca-Cola and tell them to stop their worldwide abuses at 1-800-GET-COKE.
- Sign a Petition protesting Coke's abuses
- Join the Boycott at Karmabanque's web site at: www.karmabanque.com
17. Please send photos, reports of events, etc. for the Campaign website
Please send photos, reports of events, and if you are in a school, union or organization that has banned Coke products, please send us the resolution or description of how the decision was made. We would like the Campaign website to be up-to-date and to share the information with all supporters via our newsletter.
In addition, we would still appreciate an e-mail toinfo@KillerCoke.orgwith your name and description of where you live and/or work for our database.
Campaign to Stop KILLER COKE
We are seeking your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings, and torture of union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia, South America.
"If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives." SINALTRAINAL VIce President Juan Carlos Galvis
Learn the truth about The Coca-Cola Co.
"We believe the evidence shows that Coca-Cola and its corporate network are rife with immorality, corruption and complicity in murder."
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. Director Ray Rogers