Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Questions About Coke's Abuses Still Outnumber Answers at Shareholder's Meeting

April 18, 2007

WILMINGTON, DE–Protests inside and outside of Coke shareholders’ annual meeting at Hotel DuPont today display growing concern about the corporation’s abuses. Inside the hotel, Coca-Cola shareholders will vote on a proposal to disclose quality test results for its beverages, like the EPA requires for tap water. Outside, people will carry enlarged copies of handwritten letters from elementary school children challenging Coke’s priorities.

Activists with Corporate Accountability International’s Think Outside the Bottle campaign, which challenges the marketing muscle of bottled water corporations, join a broad range of people expressing concern about Coke’s actions outside of the meeting. The group’s members are concerned that aggressive marketing of Dasani and other brand-names leads consumers to choose bottled over tap water.

“Coke promotes Dasani as safer and healthier than tap water,” says Polaris Institute Director Tony Clarke. “Corporate Accountability International’s resolution simply says, ‘prove it.’”

“Corporations like Coke, Nestlé and Pepsi are undermining people’s confidence in an essential public service,” says Corporate Accountability International Associate Campaigns Director Gigi Kellett. “Adding insult to injury, leading bands like Coke’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina use tap water as their source.”

“In India, Coke drains water from communities that already face shortages,” says R. Ajayan, Convenor of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee. “The communities want Coke to leave.” Next week marks the fifth anniversary of the movement pressuring Coke to close its Plachimada bottling plant. The corporation’s Plachimada and Mehdiganj plants remain the center of international controversy.

Most people won’t have access to enough water within 20 years according to the United Nations. And the EPA projects 36 states will experience water shortages even sooner. Events like the Coca-Cola sponsored EPA conference on Paying for Water Infrastructure in Atlanta last month and the World Water Forum last year promote water privatization as the solution.

“Corporations promote water privatization under the guise of efficiency. But whether it’s Coke or Pepsi bottling our tap water, Nestlé draining groundwater, or Suez taking over municipal water systems, none of these corporations pay the full costs of the public infrastructure they use, the environmental damage they cause or the health problems of the people they hurt,” says Kellett. “There is no substitute for public water. Water is a human right, not a privilege.”

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2007

Bryan Hirsch by cell in Wilmington (617) 784-4753
Megan Rising (617) 695-2525

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