The CSE findings have shown that the Coca-Cola and Pepsi samples had almost similar concentrations of pesticide residues: namely, the contaminants in Pepsi samples were 37 times higher than the EEC norms, Coca-Cola exceeded the norms by 45 times.
These findings were soon negated by the chiefs of the Indian subsidiaries of Coca-Cola and Pepsi.
Sanjeev Gupta, president of Coca-Cola India, maintained that these revelations by CSE were “unfair” and his company was being subjected to a “trial by media”.
The companies disagree that their products are used instead of pesticides, as they do not contain anything which might control pests.
However, farmers in the Durg, Rajnandgaon and Dhamtari districts of Chhattisgarh claim that they used Pepsi and Coke to fight pests on their rice plantations.
This usage of the drinks significantly increased their sales in remote villages. One liter of the three most popular pesticides in India, Avant, Tracer and Nuvocron costs around 10,000 rupees (£120). On the other hand, one-and-a-half liters of locally made Coca-Cola cost only 30 rupees.
Therefore, if a farmer mixes a bottle of Pepsi or Coke with water and sprays it on the crop, it would cost 55-60 rupees less per acre. Yet, the effects of this technique are still not proven!
According to the agricultural specialist, Devendra Sharma, farmers are mistaken in believing that these drinks and pesticides are the same, as these drinks are sugar syrups and which attract red ants when poured on crops, which in turn feed on the larva of insects.
Also, allegedly, not only these drinks were used for this purpose. Other cola soft drinks and locally produced beverages worked as well, and farmers claim that Pepsi, Thumbs Up, and other local soft drinks are also effective.
The main ingredients all colas have in common are water and sugar, but some manufacturers also add citric and phosphoric acids.
Mr. Sharma claims that the practice of using sugar syrup on pests is old:
“Jaggery made from sugar cane has been used commonly for pest control on many occasions. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are being used to achieve the same result. Farmers have traditionally used sugary solutions to attract red ants to feed on insect larvae. I think the colas are also performing the same role.”