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Last Updated: Friday, 16 March 2007, 12:30 GMT
Bolivia move to protect coca name
Coca leaves in La Paz market - 1/3/2007
Bolivians have used the coca leaf for many centuries
International firms like Coca-Cola may have to stop using the word coca in brand names if Bolivia's coca leaf farmers get their way.

The growers say the leaf is part of Bolivia's cultural heritage and merits protection like regional products such as champagne and feta cheese.

A resolution by the farmers has been endorsed by a panel that is helping to rewrite Bolivia's constitution.

Coca-Cola said in a statement its name is protected under Bolivian law.

'Mild stimulant'

The resolution put to the Coca Committee of the Constitutional Assembly called the "millennium-old coca plant" a "tangible, cultural heritage" and a "bioenergetic, strategic, renewable, economic, natural resource".

It demanded that "international companies that include in their commercial name the name of coca (example: Coca Cola) refrain from using the name of the sacred leaf in their products."

The panel also called on the UN to decriminalise coca.

The coca leaf is a mild stimulant that Bolivians have used for centuries to reduce altitude sickness and feelings of hunger.

Bolivia's indigenous people also use the leaves in religious ceremonies.

President Evo Morales is a former coca leaf farmer and is pressing the UN to allow Bolivia to export products such as tea, toothpaste and liquor made from coca.

A representative of the Coca Committee, Margarita Teran, said she was dismayed that Coca-Cola could sell its soft drinks worldwide while Bolivia was barred from exporting products made with coca.

Coca-Cola released a statement saying their trademark was "the most valuable and recognised brand in the world" and was protected under Bolivian law.

Coca quandary for hard-up Bolivia
14 Apr 06 |  Americas
Country profile: Bolivia
07 Feb 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Bolivia
23 Feb 07 |  Country profiles

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