“Nothing in its [the corporation’s] legal makeup limits what it can do to others in pursuit of its selfish ends, and it is compelled to cause harm when the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs.” - Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation.

Joel Bakan’s recent book and film ‘The Corporation’ have shown the inability of corporations to consider people or the environment in their actions. The film explores how the legal structure of corporations makes them responsible only to their shareholders.

At SchNEWS we’ve always had a healthy skepticism of corporations. This week we’ve got reports on some of the biggest, meanest corporate killers and the resistance to them in India, where the locals aren’t taking corporate rule lying down…

“Bayer’s decision to give up the GM ghost in India isn’t surprising because the writing has been on the wall for years. Like almost everyone else, Indian people aren’t prepared to accept GM foods and Bayer realised it had to stop flogging a dead horse.” Doreen Stabinsky – Greenpeace

Genetic pirates Bayer Crop Science announced that they are stopping trials of GM vegetables in India. The company has taken the radical and innovative decision to concentrate on conventional plant breeding. Bayer claimed that the decision was “due to changes in our global research strategy”.

SchNEWS reckons that it might have had something to do with protests at the end of September, when Greenpeace activists chained themselves to the Mumbai headquarters of Bayer to demonstrate against the crop trials. The activists spent 11 hours in chains, only releasing themselves after arranging a meeting with truth-resistant Bayer management wonks and an assurance that their questions would be answered.

This is Bayer’s third climbdown over GM crops in a year. In March they announced it would not be commercialising GM maize in the UK because its future was “economically non-viable.” Three months later the company stopped all trials of GM oilseed rape in Australia, effectively ending any chance of the crop’s widespread cultivation.

Bayer’s withdrawal from GM research is part of a global trend of companies deciding that GM food wasn’t such a good idea after all. Everybody hates it and the firms are made to look like twats when a bunch of hippies halt crop trials, and force them to admit that the science is bollocks. Earlier this year, Monsanto abandoned GM wheat research and trials of GM oilseed rape in Australia.

* Greenpeace Press Office: 020 7865 8255, Divya Raghunandan
* Greenpeace India: draghuna@dialb.greenpeace.org
* Coalitiona against Bayer Dangers

Dow ‘N’ Out

The people of Bhopal know all about corporations’ lack of respect for anything other than the pursuit of profit; in particular Dow Chemicals who now own the infamous Union Carbide...

The 3rd December will be the 20th anniversary of the disaster at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal where four thousand people died after an explosion and toxic gas leak at the pesticide factory. Thousands more have been seriously ill or died since then.

Union Carbide was supposed to be responsible for cleaning up the site, but 20 years on toxic waste is still stored unsafely, poisoning the nearby town’s water supply.

A recent BBC investigation uncovered levels of contamination 500 times higher than World Health Organisation recommended limits. Local people who have to drink the water every day are exposed to the chemicals and many suffer from liver and kidney damage.

Union Carbide says that when it handed the site back in 1998 it “found no evidence of groundwater contamination” .

Perhaps they just didn’t notice the thousands of tons of toxic waste on the abandoned site, the pools of mercury lying on the ground, skips full of poisonous material and bags of highly toxic chemical waste. Rainwater washes these chemicals into puddles and streams and eventually into the ground water.

The more than 570,000 victims of the disaster have only recently started to receive compensation. From the 15th November, £188 million is being distributed to victims.
“We never want to see another Bhopal,” the survivors have said from the beginning.

The 3rd of December is a Global Day of Action when trade unions, community organizations and others will hold protests, events and actions in cities in India, including Bhopal, and around the world. Visit the campaign website to learn 20 things you can do to help make Dow face responsibility for Bhopal

You Must Be Choking... Coca Cola

“Drinking Coke is like drinking farmer’s blood in India” - Nandlal Master, of Lok Samiti and the National Alliance of People’s Movements

In India a pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola’s operations. Communities living around bottling facilities experience severe water shortages and the little remaining groundwater, along with the soil, is polluted by Coca-Cola’s practice of dumping its wastewater into the nearby fields.

One of the worst examples was the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, South India (SchNEWS 360). The plant was eventually shut down after an epic 600 day protest by more than 1000 families.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are also angrily denying allegations that their products manufactured in India contain toxins far above the permitted levels in the developed world.

India’s Centre for Science and Environment announced research in August which showed that Pepsi’s soft drink products had 36 times the level of pesticide residues permitted under EU regulations and Coca-Cola’s had 30 times the level. The pesticides residues can cause cancer and immune system breakdown. The same products in the US don’t have these added ‘extras’.

Unsurprisingly, Indian people are getting pissed off with Coca Cola. And they’re organizing...

Between the 15-24th November there’s a 250km march between two Coke factories, to bring attention to the many problems created by Coca-Cola in India. The march will end on 24th November with a rally in Mehdiganj.

The demonstrators want the government to withdraw Coca-Cola’s license to operate because of the damage to communities caused by water shortages and pollution, and the determined Indians have got the big corporations on the run...

“Coca-Cola will pay for its crimes in India and internationally,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, a group that helps coordinate the campaign internationally. “We will take this battle to where it hurts Coca-Cola the most - the US and the EU, its largest markets.” They have also joined forces with the Colombian trade union, Sinaltrainal, who are fighting Coca-Cola over its complicity in the murder, torture and intimidation of trade union organizers in Colombia (SchNEWS 447).

* India Resource Centre
* Amit Srivastava - amit@IndiaResource.org
* KillerCoke

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