MEME - 'Coke and Pepsi Used as Pesticides in India'
OutlineCirculating meme claims that Coke and Pepsi Are Used as Pesticides in India because they are cheaper and more effective than the real thing.
© Depositphotos.com/ alexroz
Brief AnalysisAs strange as it may seem, some Indian farmers have reportedly used colas and other sugary drinks as pesticide substitutes. However, if the technique is effective at all, it is likely that the sugary liquid attracts predators such as ants that feed on plant pests or because the carbohydrates and sugar boost the plant's immunity against pests. Media reports about the practice first surfaced back in 2004. However, it is currently unclear if Indian farmers still use colas as pesticide substitutes today. The story may have gained extra momentum after a 2006 study reportedly found high levels of pesticides in Coke and Pepsi products sold in India.
Coke and Pepsi Are Used as Pesticides in India
Farmers in India in the state of Chhattisgarh use coke and pepsi as pesticides because it’s cheaper than pesticides and gets the job done just as well. Video below.
Pepsi and Coca-Cola strongly disagree that their products can be used as pesticides because they say there is nothing in the drinks that can be used as pest control. But, the Farmers in the Durg, Rajnandgaon and Dhamtari districts of Chhattisgarh disagree and have successfully used Pepsi and Coke to protect their rice plantations against pests.
According to a meme that is currently making its way rapidly around the interwebs, Indian farmers are using Coke and Pepsi as a substitute for pesticides because the drinks are cheaper and give better results.
For farmers in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh it is cheaper than pesticides and gets the job done just as well. The product? Pepsi or Coca-Cola.And, on a per litre basis, and mixed at the same ratios, cola drinks are indeed considerably less expensive than real pesticides.
Agricultural scientists give them some backing - they say the high sugar content of the drinks can make them effective in combating pests.
Unsurprisingly, Pepsi and Coca-Cola strongly disagree, saying there is nothing in the drinks that can be used in pest control.
Another November 2004 article in The Guardian also reported on the practise:
Indian farmers have come up with what they think is the real thing to keep crops free of bugs.
Instead of paying hefty fees to international chemical companies for patented pesticides, they are reportedly spraying their cotton and chilli fields with Coca-Cola.
In the past month there have been reports of hundreds of farmers turning to Coke in Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh states.
But as word gets out that soft drinks may be bad for bugs and a lot cheaper than anything that Messrs Monsanto, Shell and Dow can offer, thousands of others are expected to switch.
Not surprisingly, Coke and Pepsi have disputed the claims. A spokesperson for Coke told The Guardian:
Soft drinks do not act in a similar way to pesticides when applied to the ground or crops. There is no scientific basis for this and the use of soft drinks for this purpose would be totally ineffective.
Why it May Work:
The reports note that farmers use a variety of sugary soft drinks, not just Coke and Pepsi.
Unrelated articles about natural pest control methods support the idea that sugar water spayed on plants can attract ants that will stay around to eat pests.
Another scientist, Sanket Thakur suggested that the carbohydrates and sugar in the drinks might boost the immunity of crops resulting in higher overall yields.
More Recent Reports Lacking:
2006 Pesticide Contamination Scare Added To Story:
Some commentators subsequently suggested that the apparent effectiveness of the products as pesticides may have been related to this alleged contamination. But, there was no evidence to suggest that the contamination was so intense that the soft drink would work in the same way as pesticides when sprayed on crops. A soft drink with enough pesticide residue to actually control pests when diluted and sprayed on crops would likely be undrinkable.
Moreover, the way that the study was conducted was strongly criticised and its findings have been disputed.
Thus, soft drinks may actually have a degree of effectiveness against some plant pests. But, while the meme is based on factual reports, it is perhaps not the potent anti-cola weapon that some 'alternative' health advocates apparently believe it to be.
Last updated: May 20, 2014
First published: May 20, 2014
Written by Brett M. Christensen
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Coke and Pepsi Are Used as Pesticides in India