By Mohammed Mesbahi
13 Januray, 2004
Cola was invented in the United States in 1886 as a medicine, rather
than a drink, to stimulate the brain and the nervous system, from a
mixture of coca leaves and kola nuts, sweetened with sugar, hence the
name Coca Cola. It was not until 1893 that Coca Cola was sold and promoted
as a drink. Gradually the cocaine was eliminated, but in order to maintain
the stimulant effect caffeine was substituted.
(0.055%) is now added to increase the fizziness and zingy taste. This
gives the drink a pH of 2.8, making it almost as acidic as lemon juice
(pH 2.2), which is why more sugar has to be added in order for it to
taste sweet. Weak acidic solutions will dissolve the calcium in teeth
over a period of time and will also interfere with calcium metabolism.
This is especially of concern to post-menopausal women, who are already
have a tendency towards osteoporosis.
Stimulants and sugar are habit forming, and Coca Cola contains large
quantities of both. It is now sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose is a simple carbohydrate.
Carbohydrates are divided into two broad categories:
lactose (milk sugar),
High fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield
glucose and then processing the glucose to produce a high proportion
(80%) of fructose. This is not natural fructose, as found in fruit,
since fruit usually contains 50% fructose, 50% glucose and is absorbed
into the blood stream slowly, because the fruit also contains high levels
of fibre. The fructose in high fructose corn syrup is absorbed into
the body rapidly and transformed into glucose by the liver. There is
currently some concern surrounding the consumption of high levels of
fructose because it seems to interfere with copper metabolism and with
the formation of collagen and elastin, essential components of the growing
When we eat (or drink) a high dose of sugar (sucrose, glucose or fructose)
our blood glucose level rises suddenly, producing a feeling of elation.
However high blood glucose levels also stimulate the pancreas to release
insulin, which causes the glucose to be removed from the blood stream
and converted into fat. This results in low blood sugar, low energy,
irritability and low mood. At this point, we crave the feeling of elation
associated with the sugar. This is why soft drinks are habit forming.
When, on the other hand, we eat complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes,
bread, pasta, rice etc., the body breaks down these complex molecules
gradually, over a period of several hours, into molecules of glucose.
This glucose is released into the blood stream gradually, thus maintaining
blood glucose at the level required by the body and brain for proper
Putting high quantities of sugar into drinks is an insidious way of
introducing calories into people. People eating a chocolate bar are
aware that they are consuming something fattening. People, especially
children, consuming the same amount of calories in a drink are not.
Regular consumption of drinks containing high levels of sugar lead to
a gradual build up of stored fat and contribute to the rising levels
of obesity in the West. Over-consumption of sugar causes over-stimulation
of the pancreas. Over a period of many years, the pancreas loses its
ability to produce adequate quantities of insulin. This leads to late-onset
diabetes. Levels of late-onset diabetes have been rising steadily in
the West over the past century.
Coca Cola, one of the worlds largest corporations, worth about
ninety five billion dollars, owes much of its success to the massive
marketing and advertising used to promote the product. It became a corporation
early in the twentieth century and immediately began an aggressive advertising
campaign throughout the US. The corporation used some advertising techniques
of dubious morality, including funding the American Academy of Paediatric
Dentistry and suppressing a World Health Organisation Report on healthy
eating. The report stated that soft drink consumption contributed to
obesity. But possibly the policy which caused the most public outrage
was that of paying schools to sell Coca Cola in vending machines. The
corporation realised that if they could sell Coca Cola to children,
by the time they finished school they would become confirmed Coca Cola
drinkers and would continue to buy the drink for the rest of their lives.
This strategy was so successful that Coca Cola rapidly became the most
popular drink in the US.
Long before the
US market had become saturated, the corporation decided to target the
next place with money to spend on drinks, i.e. Europe, where they now
sell thirty percent of their product. Vending machines in schools soon
became common place, despite opposition from concerned parents and teachers.
Under-funded state schools found it difficult to refuse the money offered
by Coca Cola.
The imposition of permanent advertising in schools, in the form of vending
machines, certainly justifies a boycott, and indeed some schools have
organised them, in protest against the Corporations monopoly of
products sold in school vending machines. Groups at Universities in
the US and the UK are also running boycotts in protest against Cokes
human rights abuses. Berkeley, New York University, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers,
Macalister and University College Dublin all have ongoing boycotts.
Coca Cola has a history of human rights abuse. It is a fact that
the soft drinks giant from Atlanta, Georgia collaborated with the Nazi-regime
throughout its reign from 1933 1945 and sold countless millions
of bottled beverages to Hitlers Germany. From Coca-Cola
Goes to War, Jones E and Ritzman F.
While the corporation,
back in the USA, was promoting Coca Cola as a morale booster for the
US troops, their German representative, Max Keith was sponsoring Nazi
events, including the 1936 Olympics and situating advertisements close
to Nazi leaders at rallies. Sales of Coke in Germany went from zero
in 1929 to 4 million cases in 1939. Coke became the most popular drink
in Germany and in 1944 the company sold 2 million cases. When the Nazis
began their invasions of Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium
and Norway Walter Oppenhof, Coca Colas German company lawyer,
and Max Keith were employed by the Nazis Office of Enemy Property.
They travelled with Nazi troops and were responsible for setting up
Nazi Coca-Cola factories in expropriated soft drinks plants in countries
occupied by the Nazis. They staffed these factories with kidnapped civilians.
But Coca Colas association with fascist regimes is not confined
to world war history.
In the 1970s workers
at Coca Cola bottling factories in Guatemala were killed, in the 1980s
Coke supported the Apartheid system in South Africa and in the 1990s
they supported the brutal Abacha regime in Nigeria.
Currently SINAL TRAINAL, the Colombian workers union is promoting
a world wide boycott in order to raise awareness of the intimidation,
torture, kidnapping, illegal detention and murder of workers in the
Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia.
On the other side of the world, in several South Indian states, including
Kerala and Tamil Nadu, boycotts have been running for years, despite
police repression, in protest against Coca Colas excessive water
consumption, pollution of local wells and destruction of agriculture.
The Corporations bottling factories have been pumping water from
boreholes at such a rate that they have dried up the underground aquifers.
They have also been distributing the sludge produced by the factory
as fertilizer. It is true that this sludge does contain substances which
fertilize the soil, but Exeter University analysed it for the Kerala
Pollution Control Board and found that it contained dangerously high
levels of toxic metals, including cadmium. These toxic metals leach
into the ground water and are taken up by crops and therefore ingested
by the local population. After the BBC aired a programme about this,
Coca Cola was forced to stop dumping their toxic waste on the local
population, but nothing was done to clean up the already polluted environment.
The protest and boycott in India continue.
The Coca Cola Corporation owns four of the worlds most popular
five soft drinks: Coca Cola, diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite.
Over the past five years, Coca Cola Corporation has realised that, as
water resources dwindle worldwide, even more money can be made from
selling bottled water. Their sales of water are growing exponentially.
Brands include Bonaqua, Dasani (US) Kinley (India), Mount Franklin (Australia)
Malvern (UK) and Ciel (Mexico), but soft drinks still account for 85%
of their market (at the moment). They plan to expand massively in the
bottled water market but most of their advertising will go into promotion
of soft drinks. Soon Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle will be the three main
corporations selling bottled water, an iniquitous market, often depriving
people of their local source of spring water, and selling it back to
them at unaffordable prices.
Max Keiser, investment activist, and Zak Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist,
have formed a partnership to target Coca Cola by bringing down the value
of its shares. Keiser has developed a system for measuring a corporations
vulnerability to a boycott. He calls it the Karmabanque (KbQ) Index.
The KbQ index 2004 tracks the share price of high-performing but socially
and environmentally irresponsible corporations, assuming their shares
had been sold short on the 1 January 2004. A short sale is a bet that
a trader makes that a companys share price will fall. The further
the companys share price falls, the more money the trader makes.
Selling short stocks hurts corporations because it deflates their share
price. The KbQ rating determines where a company appears in the index,
and combines the amount of dissent directed at a company and its boycott
vulnerability ratio (BVR). A companys BVR indicates how susceptible
its stock price is to a consumer boycott. In order to work out a corporations
vulnerability, its market capitalization should be divided by trailing
annual sales. Currently, ExxonMobils BVR is close to $1, whereas
Coca-Colas is closer to $5. In other words the Coca Cola Corporation
is five times more vulnerable to a boycott than ExxonMobil.
Coca Colas appalling human rights record, combined with its high
boycott vulnerability ratio make it the ideal target for a boycott.
This is why Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith have decided to launch a hedge
fund, which will be used to buy Coca Cola shares. They will then sell
the shares for less than they bought them for, which will bring down
their value on the international stock market. They are relying on the
continuing boycott of Coca Cola products to bring the share price down
still further. They will then buy the shares at a lower price than they
sold them for and sell them again for even less. All profits from this
venture will be donated to the victims of Coca Cola in countries such
as India and Colombia.
Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith say that for every 1,000 new boycotters,
they will increase the size of the hedge fund by £5000. Goldsmiths
Ecologist Magazine will publicize the boycott and audit, track and publish
the results. Keiser recommends that pressure groups like Greenpeace
and Friends of the Earth should decide what to boycott according to
their Boycott Vulnerability Ratio.
There has been a
history of Coca Cola boycotts in many parts of the world. But this is
the first time that an investor has become actively involved in a world
wide Coca Cola boycott. Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith deserve our support.
There is every reason to hope that they will succeed in bringing down
the market value of Coca Cola, but for that they need more people and
organisations to join the boycott.
They can be contacted
is the Chair and Founder of STWR
P.O. Box 34275
London NW5 1XT
Website : www.stwr.net
E mail : firstname.lastname@example.org /