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Pepsi chief slams EU norms
BS Corporate Bureau in New Delhi |
August 13, 2003 08:36 IST
Last Updated: August 13, 2003 09:31 IST
Pepsi Foods managing director Rajeev Bakshi on Tuesday slammed European Union norms by saying it had a vested interest in creating standards for products and services that could be used as a competitive advantage in most countries.
Bakshi said once trade liberalisation took place, developing countries would be prevented under General Agreement on Trade in Services or GATS rules from discriminating against foreign products and service-providers, which would then act in favour of the EU.
"The European norms will allow control of management of resources and policy-making to be dictated or manipulated from afar. This will act to the detriment of farmers, manufacturers and service and product providers," he said.
Bakshi's statement comes in response to a CSE report that said leading Pepsi and Coca-Cola brands in the country do not conform to EU norms.
He added that, generally, these were standards where scientific uncertainty in measurement was large and where regulatory measures currently were not in place.
These were not exact in their assessments of the risks based on scientific evidence but were geared more to addressing concerns as defined by the EU's commercial interests, thereby creating another market for the EU's own testing and measurement services, he said.
The impact of adopting EU norms needed to be evaluated in both qualitative and quantitative terms, he said. "If India adopts EU food laws, for example, 90 per cent of our groundnut crop would be inedible because of aflatoxin standards.
"Our liquid milk would be undrinkable and processed milk products unuseable because EU standards require that cows be machine-milked.
"Fruits and vegetables would not come to the markets and even basic staples such as rice and wheat would need to be imported into India in order to satisfy "standards". Our whisky is not a whisky according to EU as it is not malt-based," Bakshi said.
He added that a national debate is needed on the toxicological impact of pesticides and the views of the scientific community on whether, in the Indian context, adopting EU pesticide limits will have a significantly positive impact on safety and whether it will be practical without widespread control of pesticide use.
While some sections are already proposing inclusion of soft drinks under Rule 65 of the PFA at 0.1 ppb/0.5 ppb total as per the EU norms, the folly of adopting arbitrary standards should be discussed.
Elaborating further, he added as in the case of Rule 65, which permits 3500 parts per billion for DDT and 1250 ppb for fruits and milk.
"If soft drinks have a safe limit of 0.5 ppb, then milk and fruits at their levels should be completely unsafe and should have much tighter standards based on scientific average daily intake," Bakshi added.
There is indeed no ostensible reason to import standards, particularly when these may or may not be relevant to our context and carry the incremental risks of our ceding future control to an external source, Bakshi felt.Adopting, for example, EU water standards for India has to be viewed in the context with EU norms of permissible level of a pesticide like Chlorpyrefos for milk, eggs, cheese curd and butter which are 100 times higher than for water, he said.