By Arun Kumar
Washington : The Coca-Cola company says that an American college's decision not to renew its contract this summer due to its allegedly adverse business practices in Colombia and India is based on "internet rumour and myth".
"The allegations that led to this decision are based on internet rumor and myth, and have been proven false time and again, Atlanata based beverage company's director issues management, Diana Garza Ciarlante said Thursday.
"While our business relationship with Smith College is important, the integrity and reputation of our company is more important," she said, "deeply disappointed" by the Massachusetts based women's institution's decision.
"It is disappointing that even in the face of the truth, some prefer to put their faith in rumour and speculation in order to justify their condemnation of a successful and sustainable company such as ours," Ciarlante said in an e-mail response to IANS.
In a letter to Coca-Cola this week, Smith College president Carol T. Christ said that the world largest beverage maker would not be permitted to participate in the upcoming soft drink bidding process.
"In light of Coca-Cola's business practices in Colombia and India, Smith will preclude Coca-Cola from the list of approved bidders when we enter the contract renewal process later this summer," she said without spelling out any specific issues in India or Colombia.
"In severing our ties with the Coca-Cola Corporation, Smith joins other institutions and organisations around the world in urging Coca-Cola to take significant steps toward more responsible business practices across all realms of its operations," the Smith college president said.
Christ said she had conveyed Smith's emerging unease and concerns about issues related to union organising and environmental degradation to Coca-Cola president Donald Knauss two years ago.
Smith had urged the company to address growing problems in these areas. But after an extensive review a college committee did not feel that Coca-Cola responded persuasively to its questions and concerns, she said.
"As a private college with a public conscience, Smith College takes issues of human rights and environmental sustainability very seriously. Social responsibility is a core value of the college, one we aspire to reflect in our educational mission and in our campus operations," Christ said.