Back when I was just 14 another Adam Richards was making a difference. From the Burma Library Archives:
FBC: HARVARD DUMPS PEPSI: CONCERN OVER CONNECTION TO
April 8, 1996
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Cambridge, MA
Cambridge: Harvard University dining service has scuttled a $1 million
contract with Pepsi after Harvard students raised concerns over Pepsi’s
activities in military-run Burma.
Harvard is not the only top university where contracts with PepsiCo are
under fire: Stanford University Burma democracy activists have more than 2000
student backers for an effort to keep Pepsi-owned Taco Bell off their
campus. Dozens of high school and college campuses across the US are
involved in similar efforts.
“I’m a businessperson who says that we have to be socially and ethically
responsible” says Harvard Food Services director of dining services
Michael Berry. Regarding Pepsi he says “I do think there is a problem
doing business with such a company.”
As recently as Feb. 22, a Pepsi memo sneered at the Harvard students,
noting that a Harvard demonstration against Pepsi “involved a mere 25
students.” “This shows the power of the information we provided on
Pepsi,” says Harvard senior Adam Richards.
“What you have is America’s ‘best and brightest’ challenging PepsiCo based
on the facts” says senior analyst Simon Billenness of Franklin Research and
Development. “Students are at the heart of Pepsi’s target market. Pepsi
is extremely vulnerable.”
Pepsi entered Burma shortly after military authorities quashed an
overwhelming (82%) May, 1990 election victory by the NLD party of Nobel
Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. NLD spokespeople have repeatedly
called for Pepsi to cease operating in Burma. Pepsi’s Burmese partner is
also chairman of a joint venture with the military called JV3. In Burma,
“the army controls all major businesses. Not even a small scale merchant
can survive without solid army connections” says the authoritative Far
Eastern Economic Review.
To repatriate its profits from Burma, Pepsi engages in “counter trade” by
purchasing agricultural goods for export. Recent reports by the United
Nations and human rights groups note that forced labor has become pervasive in
Burma’s agriculture sector. The Burmese army has a practice of confiscating
farmland and using the evicted farmers as forced labor.
Despite several enquiries, PepsiCo has not disclosed the parties from
which the company buys farm products or provided any evidence that
PepsiCo is trying to avoid buying from farms that use forced labor.
Despite rising concern over its presence in Burma, Pepsi’s lawyers each
year work diligently to keep such issues off of the shareholder ballot at
its annual meetings.
Pepsi’s revenues in Burma, $14 million in 1995, are dwarfed by US sales of
over $10 billion.
Other US companies, including Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss, Eddie Bauer, Liz
Claiborne, Amoco and Columbia Sportswear, shun Burma. UNOCAL, Texaco and
ARCO remain, and along with Pepsi are the targets of consumer and shareholder
F R E E B U R M A C O A L I T I O N
For More Info Contact: Adam Richards