Coca-Cola Booted from the University of Guelph

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2007

Becky Wallace, Central Student Association T: +1 519 824 4120 ext 56742 E: csaacad@uoguelph.ca
Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center T: +1 415 336 7584 E: info@IndiaResource.org

San Francisco: Students at the University of Guelph in Canada have voted to remove Coca-Cola products from campus because of the company's unethical practices in India and Colombia.

A referendum calling for replacing Coca-Cola products with "an alternate beverage supplier" received 65% of the votes last week. Coca-Cola's 10-year contract with the University of Guelph is set to expire in August 2007, and it seems very unlikely that it will be renewed given the student mandate.

"Students have voiced their opinions loudly and clearly. We want ethical choices on this campus," said Becky Wallace of the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph. "We are breaking our brand loyalty to Coca-Cola and standing up for human rights and the environment in India and Colombia," she said.

The Coca-Cola company's operations in India have led to severe water shortages for thousands of people living in the vicinity of its bottling plants, and government studies have confirmed illegal dumping of toxic waste around its plants. One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India has been shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition.

Students in the US, UK and Canada have played a key role in applying pressure on the Coca-Cola company to end its abuses in India, and over 20 colleges and universities have taken actions against the Coca-Cola company as a result of the campaign.

"This is yet another victory for communities in India who are challenging the Coca-Cola company for creating water shortages and pollution across India," said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization that worked with students at the University of Guelph to support the campaign.

The University of Guelph joins the increasing ranks of colleges and universities around the world that have ceased doing business with the Coca-Cola company as a result of the International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable.

Most recently, students at the University of Manchester in England voted to remove Coca-Cola products from campus as a result of the campaign.

In response to the growing international campaign against the Coca-Cola company, the company has initiated a so called "independent" investigation into its operations in India by an Indian group, the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). TERI is funded by the Coca-Cola company itself, and the group has named Coca-Cola as one of the most responsible companies in India in 2001.

"We are tired of whitewash attempts by the Coca-Cola company, such as hiring a group it funds in India to investigate its operations. What we need are genuine initiatives to seriously address the very grave issues in India that are destroying lives and livelihoods of thousands of people," said Amit Srivastava.

For more information, visit www.IndiaResource.org


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