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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 13:34 GMT
India finds pesticides in colas
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC correspondent in Delhi

Indian MPs have upheld the findings of an environment group which reported that Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks contained pesticide residues.

Activists of the Indian Democratic Party protest in Delhi
The report sparked protests in India
The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said last August that its investigations revealed the drinks contained harmful residues and posed a health risk.

The report led to a massive row with both Pepsico and Coca-Cola strenuously rejecting the allegations.

A public outcry led the government to form a parliamentary committee to examine the report.

The 15-member committee, which included MPs from both the government and the opposition, said the CSE findings on the presence of pesticide residues were correct.

"The committee has appreciated the whistle blowing act of CSE in alerting the nation to an issue with major implications to food safety, policy formulation regulatory framework and human and environmental health," it said.

The committee has asked the government to set higher safety-standards for soft drinks.

Victory for environmentalists

The Vice President for Coca-Cola in India, Sanjiv Gupta, said the company was still reading the report.

But he said his company would comply with "whatever new standards the government decides to bring".

CSE director Sunita Narain told the BBC she was very pleased with the report.

"It endorses our agenda that the issue of public health care and food safety is central to the country."

Cola ban

Both Pepsi and Coca-Cola have always maintained their drinks were absolutely safe.

But the parliamentary committee said it "felt that claims made by the Cola companies in their advertisement tantamount to misleading the public as their products do contain pesticides which have ill effect on human health in the long run". the report said

The CSE in its report had alleged that pesticides in the drinks could cause cancer and birth defects.

The report triggered demonstrations in India against the companies and a number of bans on the sales of their drinks.

Parliament banned its cafeterias from serving Pepsi and Coke while the defence ministry issued a circular ordering its clubs to stop selling the drinks.

Court orders Pepsi tests
11 Aug 03  |  South Asia
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06 Aug 03  |  South Asia
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05 Aug 03  |  South Asia

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