Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Hindu Business Line on Drugs, Water and Pepsi

Before you come to the conclusion that I am on Drugs or Pepsi please see THIS

Here is the summary – (i) Pepsi is going to fight anemia (!!?) and (ii) they are patenting a seeding technology for dry land paddy to help farmers who are affected by the water scarcity that invariably affects farmland in the vicinity of wherever they set up shop.

Let us look at the first absurd claim – They are going to launch a soft drink with medicinal properties that will treat Anemia. The clinical trials for this will begin in India.(ROFL)

There is a very fundamental and contradictory problem with that objective. Pepsi Co are a disease themselves. They first need to get their pipes out of India's vulnerable water resources before they start wearing a halo around their heads.

  • In 2002, PepsiCo India used 6.21 liters of water per liter of beverage manufactured by it. YOU do the math!
  • The volume of Blue Gold that they consumed can be best described as vulgar. This is happening when the country is struggling for water!
  • More accurate reports estimate that Pepsi saved 8 billion litres of water last year by applying some "new" technology. Now, how much did they waste?
  • Plachimada in Kerala is an excellent example of how ground water resources are over-exploited and locals are denied the right to an equal share of water by the beverage giants. Toxic chemicals are in abundance in wells 1km away from the beverage factory.
  • Thanks to local voices and the Supreme Court the factory eventually lost its license.
This same factory (Coke) was getting environmental awards! An eerie reminder of the Satyam Fiasco and it’s Corporate Governance awards. Every time a company splashes a Press Release about an award, I promptly take a clip off the clothesline and take it to the bridge of my nose.

The HBL article in question refuses to address the intolerable levels of pollution created by beverage companies, their poaching and unbridled looting of water resources, and the cognizant exploitation of water resources that are essential to farmers.

We have a water crises on our hands and they have the gall to launch a product with medicinal value? Since senior citizens are likely to read this blog, I will desist from profanity.

Pepsi now says they will sell soft drinks that cure anemia. They conveniently ignore the fact that excessive groundwater extraction causes diseases far graver than Anemia. The idea itself is anemic and my face turned pale the first time I read the article.

You can not fool all the people all the time! Their publicity stunts are becoming intolerable. Their claim of "sustainability" needs to be proven!

What is alarming about the piece is the tag line - "India lead country in global project; clinical trials soon". It is well known that the pesticide levels in their drinks are not great. Now they want to run clinical trials? We are supposed to be guinea pigs for some grand CSR scheme that messes with our livers?

The second issue is typically American. The profiteering is transparent in this line - "Pepsi is in the process of patenting the seeder which seeds the soil directly"

First you take away their water. Then you invent technology that seeds without water. Then you patent the technology. This vicious cycle is getting absurd.

Navadarshanam, a Gandhian Ashram in the outskirts of Bangalore has been growing dry land paddy without fertilizer for several years. They brought in farmers from North Karnataka who were experts in this crop because of the perennial drought conditions in Northern Karnataka. If Pepsi thinks that dry land farming and related technology is their invention - they need to read up on the history of Agriculture. We do not need a bunch of R&D suits from the US telling us how to plough, till and harvest.

God forbid, if we ever need to kill a large number of innocent civilians in a third world country, we will call upon the expertise of the US corporate sector and their R&D wing.

The outstandingly brilliant journalists who wrote this piece must been on drugs themselves. It looks like they lapped up every piece of bovine manure that the Pepsico CEO regurgitated without questioning it one bit.

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