For this reason, farmers use them to combat pests since they’re cheap compared to the conventional pesticides.
In 2003, the CSE examined samples from 12 leading soft drink manufacturers.
They found that all of the soft drinks contained 4 highly toxic pesticides and insecticides:
CSE director, Sunita Narain, said this at a press conference:
“In all the samples tested, the levels of pesticide residue far exceeded the maximum permissible total pesticide limit of 0.0005 mg per liter in water used as food, set down by the European Economic Commission (EEC).”
According to CDS scientists, the chlorpyrifos level was 42 times higher than the EEC limits, whereas the malathion residues were 87 times higher and those of lindane were 21 times higher.
Furthermore, the toxins were associated with long-term cancer, birth defects, serious disruption of the immune system, as well as damage to the reproductive and nervous system.
The CSE findings revealed that the Pepsi and Coca-Cola samples contained almost equal levels of pesticide residues.
While toxins in Pepsi samples were 37 times higher compared to the EEC limits, Coca-Cola surpassed the limits by 45 times.
However, Sanjeev Gupta, president of Coca-Cola India, refuted the CSE claims, terming them “unfair”. The two companies deny that their products are used as a pesticide alternative, as they don’t contain any elements that can control pests.
Nonetheless, farmers in the Durg, Dhamtari and Rajnandgaon districts of Chhattisgarh claim that they usually use Coke and Pepsi to get rid of pests on their rice farms.
Devendra Sharma, an agricultural specialist, says that farmers wrongly believe that these beverages and soft drinks are the same since these drinks are sugar syrups that attract red ants when applied on plants.
Subsequently, the ants feed on the insects’ larva.
While the major ingredients all colas have in common are sugar and water, some manufacturers also include phosphoric and citric acids.
According to Mr. Sharma, the practice of using sugar syrup on pests has been around for a while:
“Jaggery made from sugar cane has been used commonly for pest control on many occasions. Pepsi and Coca-Cola are being used to achieve the same result. Farmers have traditionally used sugary solutions to attract red ants to feed on insect larvae. I think the colas are also performing the same role.”
Sanket Thakur, also a scientist, defines this in a different way:
“All that is happening is that plants get a direct supply of carbohydrates and sugar which in turn boosts the plants’ immunity and the plantation on the whole ends up yielding a better crop.”
In response to the claims that Pepsi sales rose by 20% in the rural areas as it was being used as a pesticide, Pepsi sales manager had this to say:
“If there was any truth in these claims then we would rather be selling our product as a pesticide rather than soft drinks. There is more money in selling pesticides than in selling soft drinks. Their claim smacks of lies. At best it is idle matter.”
Even though we know that Cola used as a pesticide isn’t completely organic, it is definitely safer compared to conventional pesticides!