Coca-Cola’s corrosive corporate ethos

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If your car’s battery terminals are corroded, just open a can of Coca- Cola. Coke will dissolve corrosion, making your battery connections spiffy clean in a jiffy!

Ironically, however, Coca-Cola can’t seem to clean up the corrosive corruption within its own corporate power structure. For example, by hook or crook, the sugar-water purveyor has long battled schools, nutritionists and parents who’re concerned about America’s epidemic of childhood obesity, largely fueled by the soda industry. Like Big Oil’s climate-change deniers and Big Tobacco’s cancer deniers, Coke and its industry cohorts have put profiteering above public health, aggressively using everything from front groups to lies in order to keep shoving sugary drinks at children.

Last year, Coke quietly poured $1.5 million into the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN). It’s a quasi-academicky group that runs a PR campaign asserting that obesity is not caused by high-calorie soda pushers, but by parents who fail to make their kids burn off those calories with vigorous exercise. When Coke’s funding of this nonsense was exposed in August, the corporation loudly insisted that it merely supported the good work of this independent group — claiming to exercise no influence whatsoever over GEBN’s message. Now, however, internal emails have surfaced revealing that disclaimer to be a flat out lie.

Indeed, Coca-Cola’s chief scientist helped create the network, helped to choose its leaders, created its mission statement and designed its website. Also, GEBN’s president even assured Coke executives that the group’s goal was to improve the corporation’s reputation.

This sordid scam is not some lowlevel ethical hiccup. It comes from the top — the inevitable result of Corporate America’s “business as usual” ethos of greed-fueled, anythinggoes dishonesty.

This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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