*U of M committee recommends independent investigation of Coke*
After a year of student pressure to crically examine the ethical
implications of the University’s business relationship with Coca-Cola, the Dipute Review Board (DRB) has acknowledged serious problems and requests an investigation. A coalition of student groups, known as the Coke Coaltion, has advocated for communities in India and Colombia demanding the University cut its contract with Coke until they provide justice to these communities. In India communities have suffered because of depleted ground water, polluted farm land, and pesticide-contaminated Coke products; and in Colombia workers and their families have been killed and persecuted for being union leaders.
The DRB, a committee of students and faculty, at Michigan released an official statement this morning. It acknowledges the allegations against Coke in regards to:
1)Bio-solid waste disposal in India
2)use of groundwater in India
3)Pesticides in the product in India
4)Labor practices in Colombia.
The report says “The DRB considered four areas in which the practice and policies of Coca-Cola were potentially at variance with the VCC [the vendor code of conduct]”. It then recommends the University make some demands to the Coca-Cola corporation including conceding to an independent investigation by Sept 30, 2005 and agreeing to an independent auditor that all sides agree with by Dec. 31, 2005.
If they fail to do these two things then the U of M will suspend their contract (stop business) with Coke. The DRB also recommends that the University will not make any new contracts with Coke until after the investigation and remediation occur. And finally it calls for a demand that Coke change its practices that are in violation with the code that are discovered during the investigation by August 30th of next year.
This is a great step that students, Colombian and Indian activists, and concerned faculty have accomplished and a good start to restoring justice to the affected communities in Colombia and India.
The official report can be viewed at the University webpage. A smaller
version should be posted shortly.