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Coke Loses Contract With University Of Michigan

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The University of Michigan recently became the tenth university in the US to ban Coca-Cola from campus. The moves come over Coke’s failure to address concerns related to deaths of union leaders in Colombia and environmental problems related to its factory in Kerala, India.

The temporary suspension of Coca-Cola products is being seen as a major victory for student activists.

The activists, led by two groups, Corporate Accountability International and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, have found a sympathetic ear on college campuses.

Within the last year, New York University, Rutgers University in New Jersey and Santa Clara University in California, among others, have stopped selling Coke products, which include Sprite, Dasani water, Minute Maid juice and Powerade sports drinks.” reports the New York Times

The History

Colombia

“Eight union leaders working at Coke plants have been murdered in Colombia and several other employees have been reportedly illegally detained, and kidnapped.

“Coke has denied all of the accusations. In April, the company announced the findings of a report by CSCC, a consulting firm in Los Angeles. The report, which was paid for by Coke, addressed current conditions, not the deaths, which occurred from 1989 to 2002. It found no violations or abuses of labor or human rights in Coke’s bottling plants in Colombia.”

(NY Times)

Kerala, India

“The Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt. Ltd established this unit in 1998-99 in a 40-acre plot (previously multi-cropped paddy lands).

In its 17-hectare land, more than 65 bore-wells were sunk to extract the ground water for the production of Coke and Maaza. Every day 15 million litres of ground water is extracted by Coca Cola at no cost. Bottle washing involves the using of chemicals and the effluents are released without treatment contaminating the ground water creating a water crisis for the Tribals, Dalits and the farmers.

The site is located a few meters away from the main irrigation canal from the Moolathara barrage. The site is located about three kms away from the Meenkara dam reservoir, a few hundred meters west of Kambalathara and Vengalakkayam storage reservoirs and two kms away from the main Chitturpuzha (river).

Bottle washing that involves the use of chemicals, the sludge from the plant mainly from the products brought to the factory site after the expiry date have expired etc are carried out. While earlier the foul smelling dry sedimented slurry waste was “sold” as fertilizer to the unsuspecting farmers which was later given “free” and now with protests and objections surreptitiously dumped on the way side and on lands at night even going beyond the state boundary into the villages of adjoining Pollachi Taluk of Coimbatore District of Tamil Nadu. The ground water and hence water from the open wells have rapidly depleted in this perennially rich paddy growing belt (paddy is abandoned now with the mostly landless Adivasis loosing their jobs also). The water turns turbid or milky on boiling and is unfit for drinking, bathing and washing clothes etc. “

(Znet: Struggle against Coca Cola in Kerala )

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