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GMO March Madness!

Coke and Pepsi: We won’t drink your GMOs!

While it is generally accepted that sugary drinks and highly processed foods are not particularly healthy, there is growing recognition that a hidden danger in these products adds to their nefariousness – genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have made it clear that they would like to keep these dangers hidden from those who purchase their products. These corporations, two of the most well-known and successful food and beverage providers in the world, are doing their best to deny consumers in America the right to know what is in the food they eat. In November of 2012, the two corporations spent more than $4.1 million combined to oppose GMO labeling, with PepsiCo spending $2,485,400 and Coca-Cola spending $1,700,5001.

Adding to this injustice is the fact that both companies provide non-GMO versions of their products in Europe, where the labeling of genetically modified ingredients is required. (See Coke’s UK product page.)

The main ingredients in Coke and Pepsi beverages are often corn syrup, sugar, or both. Both of these sweeteners are derived from the most extensively genetically engineered crops: corn and sugar beets. In the United States, 95% of the sugar beet crop and more than 85% of the corn crop is now genetically modified, according to the Non-GMO Project. Even soda consumers that choose diet options in an attempt to avoid corn syrup or sugar are unable to avoid GMOs. This is because aspartame, the most common artificial sweetener, is made from genetically modified bacteria.

Looking beyond soda, these companies own a long list of juice brands you may have thought were a better option than their sodas. The Coca-Cola Company owns Simply Orange, Fruitopia, Minute Maid, Hi-C, and Odwalla and PepsiCo owns Tropicana, Lipton, Gatorade, and Naked Juice. Some of these soda alternatives also contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, sugar, and aspartame – and therefore are just as likely to contain genetically modified ingredients.

Coke and Pepsi do not limit themselves or their use of GMOs to just beverages either. Pepsi owns Frito-Lay and a host of brands and products you might recognize but not realize are connected to Pepsi: Aunt Jemima, Life Cereal, Hostess, Tostitos, and many others. Some products from Frito-Lay even go so far to be labeled "natural" despite containing genetically modified corn and vegetable oils, including corn, soybean, and canola.

GMOs have never been proven safe for consumption, and a growing body of studies is raising concerns around the health effects of eating them. GMOs are also increasing the use of toxic herbicides and causing harm to farmers in the US and abroad.

If GMOs have never been proven safe, why should Pepsi and Coke be allowed to put items containing them onto market without labels? Also, if it’s so simple to make products without GMOs in Europe, why can’t Coca-Cola and PepsiCo do it here?

Please join GMO Inside and tell Coca-Cola and PepsiCo it is time to do what is right and get genetically modified ingredients out of their products!

1http://votersedge.org/california/ballot-measures/2012/november/prop-37/funding

Dear Muhtar Kent (The Coca-Cola Company, Chief Executive Officer) and Indra Nooyi (PepsiCo, Chief Executive Officer)

As a consumer who cares about the health and environmental impacts of foods, I’m concerned about the prevalence of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in your products. Your major brands contain corn, sugar, artificial flavors, and aspartame – all ingredients that can be derived from genetically engineered crops in the US. Consumers are increasingly looking for foods that are non-GMO verified or organic certified to ensure that they are not eating GMOs, and your best-selling products lack any such assurances.

As a company that markets products as natural, I don’t understand why you would include ingredients in the foods you sell that may be harmful to human health. As a company that purports to be responsible, I don’t understand why you include GMOs that are causing harms to the environment and farmers.

I'm shocked that you sell the same products in Europe without GMOs but fail to provide those assurances here in the U.S.

I also do not understand why your company actively opposes the right of consumers to know if GMOs are in their drinks and snacks.

I urge The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo to take a proactive stand and announce a phase out of all GMOs in your beverages and snacks in 2013. I also urge you to end your opposition to the labeling of GMOs in foods and to clearly label any Coca-Cola/PepsiCo products that contain GMOs with information regarding their genetically modified ingredients. Finally, I urge you to pledge that you will not fund opposition to any of the initiatives and legislation emerging in states around the country.

You both have the opportunity to be a leader amongst major beverage companies by being the first to end your use of GMOs and let the public know you have done so. Please take this important step for human and environmental health. And please make this decision now, so farmers can plant non-GMO crops this spring to meet your increased demand for non-GMO ingredients.

Thank you for your consideration.

Muhtar Kent

The Coca-Cola Company
Chief Executive Officer


Beatriz Perez

The Coca-Cola Company
Group Director, Corporate External Affairs


Indra Nooyi

PepsiCo
Chief Executive Officer