Sunday, June 03, 2007

Read the label and weep...

Can't get started in the morning without your can of Diet Pepsi? Be worried. Very worried.
What's more, the good and peaceful leaders of Sudan were prepared to retaliate massively: They would cut off shipments of the emulsifier gum arabic, thereby depriving the world of cola.

"I want you to know that the gum arabic which runs all the soft drinks all over the world, including the United States, mainly 80 percent is imported from my country," the ambassador said after raising a bottle of Coca-Cola. [More]
To refresh your chemical memories, gum arabic is umm, well, ... OK, I didn't know either.
Gum arabic reduces the surface tension of liquids, which leads to increased fizzing in carbonated beverages. This can be exploited in what is known as a Mentos eruption and can be seen in The Diet Coke & Mentos Challenge. [More]
It turns out to be a bluff, however. At least for Coke drinkers.
Sudan does continue to supply the world with about 80 percent of its gum arabic. A decade ago, nearly 80 percent of all the gum arabic imported into the United States came from Sudan, but a lot has changed since then.

For starters, Coca-Cola, the world's largest soft-drink maker, does not purchase any gum arabic from Sudan.

"As a matter of policy, we don't disclose where we source our ingredients," said Kari Bjorhus, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola. "But we don't buy gum arabic from Sudan." Pepsi, the world's second-largest soda producer, however, refused to comment for this story.

Commerce Department documents indicate that the United States has decreased its reliance on the Sudanese product over the last several years. [More]
This would be great material to crack wise about except for the complicating factor of hundreds of thousands of dead people at the hands of bozos like Khartoum Karl. Recent attempts by the US to stop the genocide are not exactly airtight either.

The administration's list of targeted firms is noteworthy for what it left out.

For one, the China National Petroleum, which operates in Sudan, was not included. Likewise, Sudan's government-dominated Gum Arabic will not be subjected to sanctions. The company is one of the world's largest exporters of a sticky tree resin used in hundreds of consumer products, including soft drinks and makeup. It was exempted from previous U.S. sanctions after American manufacturers said they needed Gum Arabic to continue making their products. [More]
While I welcome every attempt to deal with this ongoing tragedy, the loss of cola seems a relatively small price to pay for saving lives. And if our government doesn't understand yet that perception without substance plays badly in the Information Age, we are due for a change.

Still, even a perhaps belated attempt to stop this human catastrophe deserves fair credit.


Anonymous said...

Why don't people see where the big food and petro companies are actually not only raping and pillaging our own poor, but also the earths people.

John Phipps said...


From my perspective, the Darfur situation is less about multinational corporate bad people and more about lack of property rights, corruption and tribal hatred at its worst.

I do not know what the answer is, but we should be looking for it harder.