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Has Coke become the new McDonald's?

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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 05:59 PM
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Has Coke become the new McDonald's?
The muffled phone line made the voice in Lagos sound small and distant but there was no mistaking the sense of determination. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, a Nigerian lawyer, was explaining how he intended to take on Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft drinks company.

He claims to be acting for some 4,000 people in the port area of Apapa, many of them poor and illiterate, who believe that a local bottling plant has stolen their livelihoods. A lawsuit is planned accusing the company of polluting a lagoon by pumping untreated waste into the water and killing fish. "Like many multinational companies operating in Africa, Coca-Cola is guilty of double standards," he said. "They do what they are unable to do in America and Europe. We feel cheated. People are roaming the streets with no means of making a living."

Welcome to the Coke side of life. The planned legal action is just the latest in a litany of alleged human rights and environmental abuses in developing markets that has made Coca-Cola a cause celebre. When self-described anarchists interrupted the carrier of the Olympic torch on route to Turin ahead of this year's winter games, it was not the athlete's running shoes they objected to, it was the presence of Coca-Cola, which had spent $66m (35m) to become the main sponsor. Coke is the new Nike.

The latest issue to hobble the company is the renewed allegation that its flagship drink in India contains 27 times the maximum permitted amount of pesticides. A study published by an agency of the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this week said it detected none of the toxins found by a New Delhi organisation. Nevertheless, a quarter of India's states have imposed partial or total bans so far. Coke's defenders claim the bans are politically driven.

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