June 17, 2019

Coca-Cola’s Human Rights Hypocrisy

Press Release from the National Center for Public Policy Research:

Coca-Cola’s Human Rights Hypocrisy: Why Does Soda Leader Criticize American Religious Freedom Laws While Doing Business in Nations Lacking Basic Civil Liberties?

All Coca-Cola Investors Urged to Vote for Free Enterprise Project’s Shareholder Proposal That Calls out Coke’s Human Rights Duplicity

Soft Drink Leader’s Allegiance with Fringe Anti-Religious Group Called into Question

Atlanta, GA / Washington, DC –  The National Center for Public Policy Research, the nation’s leading proponent of free-market investor activis, is calling on all Coca-Cola investors to approve its shareholder resolution that exposes Coca-Cola’s hypocritical treatment of civil liberties.  The proposal, submitted by the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP), questions why the soft drink giant opposes religious liberty in the United States on alleged civil rights pretenses while simultaneously maintaining operations in numerous nations lacking those same rights.

Coca-Cola’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. This will be the sixth time a National Center representative has attended a Coca-Cola shareholder meeting, and the sixth corporate shareholder meeting that the FEP has participated in so far in 2017.

“Coca-Cola’s attacks on Americans of faith have gone under the radar for far too long,” said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi, who is set to represent the FEP at the meeting and has participated in past Coca-Cola shareholder meetings.  “Coca-Cola operates in countries where governments consider homosexuality a crime.  Yet they allied with a radical pressure group, Georgia Prospers, to stop the Peach State’s religious freedom bill they falsely claimed persecuted homosexuals.  It’s inconsistent, and their error in judgement here is compounded by apparent silence abroad. We are simply asking Coca-Cola to justify their actions.” 

The National Center’s proposal “requests the board of directors review the company’s guidelines for selecting countries/regions for its operations and issue a report. . .  [to] identify Coca-Cola’s criteria for investing in, operating in and withdrawing from high-risk regions.” It is the only proposal for consideration by shareholders not being offered by Coca-Cola itself.

The full text of the National Center’s proposal, and Coca-Cola’s response to it, are available on page 81 of the company’s proxy statement, which is available for downloadhere.  The text of its prepared statement in favor of the proposal can be found here.  Comments from the FEP after the meeting will be also be available on the site herewithin hours of the conclusion of the meeting.

The National Center’s FEP brought similar shareholder proposals before shareholders atApple, Eli Lilly, General Electric and Wal-Mart in 2016.  It also raised religious freedom issues with executives of Home Depot, Nike, PepsiCo and Red Hat. This is also not the first time the FEP promoted a shareholder proposal at a Coca-Cola meeting.  In 2016, the FEP asked Coca-Cola shareholders to consider a proposal for the company to issue a congruency analysis to point out and justify potentially questionable affiliations and contributions on the part of the company.  The FEP has been attending Coca-Cola shareholder meetings since 2012.

“By opposing Georgia’s religious freedom legislation, Coca-Cola opposed the kind of protections inherent in our nation’s founding principles and later advocated by the likes of Ted Kennedy.  Yet the company does business in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and other places where homosexuality is discriminated against to the extent it is punishable by death,” added Almasi.  “This disconnect in policy cannot be overlooked.  The Free Enterprise Project, as an advocate for the company’s shareholders, is asking company executives to justify their decisions.”

 “If Coca-Cola wants to go after religious Americans, it’s no longer going to do so with impunity,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq.  “Either the company is opposed to religious freedom everywhere or it only opposes religious freedom here in the United States as a means to score political points with the anti-religious left. If the company were to honestly answer our proposal, all Coca-Cola investors would know if the company was truly anti-religious or simply hypocritical for political reasons.  Those are the only two potential explanations for the company’s actions.”

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group – focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, National Center representatives have participated in nearly 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues. The Coca-Cola meeting marks FEP’s sixth shareholder meeting attended so far in 2017.   On April 26, while Almasi is at the Coca-Cola meeting, Danhof will be participating in General Electric’s shareholder meeting.

The National Centers Free Enterprise Project activism has yielded a tremendous return on investment:
  • FEPs highly-publicized questioning of support for the Clinton Foundation by Boeing and General Electric helped trigger an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundations activities that dominated the 2016 presidential campaign.  
  • FEP inquiries prompted Facebook to address political bias against conservatives in social media.
  •  Company executives acknowledged media bias at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) in response to FEPs challenges, which helped to bring about more objective reporting and more balanced political representation.
  • FEPs Employee Conscience Protection Project strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations.
So far in 2017, the FEP has been featured in media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Breitbart, WorldNetDaily, Drudge Report, Business Insider, CNET, National Public Radio, American Family Radio and SiriusXM. In 2016, the FEP was also featured in the Washington Times, the Fox News Channel’s “Cavuto,” the Financial Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, the Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, Fortune, Newsmax, the Daily Caller, Lifezette, the Seattle Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribuneamong many others.  The Free Enterprise Project was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassels 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank.  Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations.  It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.  Sign up for email updates here.  Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements.  To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at@NCPPRMedia.

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Coca Cola Accepts Challenge to Commit to GMO Education

National Center for Public Policy Research Urges Coca-Cola to Conduct Public Education Campaign About Safety of GMOs

As Celebrities Such as Dr. Oz and Self-Appointed Food Police Such as the “Food Babe” Sow Discord over GMOs, Science Shows GMOs are Safe

Big Business Has Moral Obligation to Take Truth to the Public

Coca-Cola CEO Recognizes and Applauds National Center’s Work to Bring Sound Science to GMO Debate

Washington, DC – At last week’s annual meeting of Coca-Cola shareholders in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Center for Public Policy Research urged the beverage giant’s CEO, Muhtar Kent, to do far more to promote the safety and benefit of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), as the food industry is under near-constant assault from ant-science activists who seek to demonize these ingredients.

A video of the exchange is here.

“The food and beverage industry has a moral obligation and a business incentive to confront anti-GMO activists by promoting the safety and promise of these high-yield foods,” said National Center Free Enterprise Project Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “The attacks on GMO foods often come from elitists such as television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz and the self-appointed Food Babe, Vani Hari , who have used their respective platforms to spread junk science and fear. But their actions have real-world harm and large food and beverage companies such as Coca-Cola have a duty to set the record straight.”

At the meeting, held April 29 in Atlanta, Danhof explained the scientific community agrees GM ingredients are safe and the actions of anti-GMO activists are causing human suffering. He stated:

Despite the fact that GMOs are mainstream agriculture, GMOs feed people more efficiently, GMO crops are more environment-friendly than conventional crops and there is a scientific consensus GMO foods are safe – activists still attack companies such as Coca-Cola for using GMOs in some of its products.

Last year, Scientific American reported that the delayed application of Vitamin A-enhanced Golden Rice thanks to controversies stirred by anti-GMO activists had cost over 1.4 million life years in India alone since 2002. This is real human suffering and death.

Danhof went on to explain that the anti-GMO crowd has tricked much of the public into distrusting these ingredients. This increases the need for strong corporate action:

The anti-GMO attacks come from Americans who have likely never missed a meal in their lives. Their campaign against GMOs is unscientific, fear-based and inhumane, but they are winning. One ABC News poll showed 93 percent of Americans think the federal government should mandate GMO labeling – a tactic they hope will elevate GMOs with taboo products such as tobacco and alcohol.

As perhaps the most recognizable brand in the world, Coca-Cola has an opportunity, and indeed a duty, to do more to bridge the GMO information gap and educate consumers about the safety of GM products.

Danhof asked Mr. Kent to make Coca Cola’s health scientists, nutrition specialists and himself available to the American and international media to combat the unscientific activists and stand up for the promise of GMOs.

To read Danhof’s full statement, as prepared for delivery, click here.

Coca-Cola’s Kent replied:

First, we appreciate your question – question about technology, biotechnology, that you’re presenting, in a way a slightly different perspective than we have heard in the past. And we’ve- all of us at Coca-Cola, we firmly believe that there is – that the only way that we can combat some of these matters that you’ve just talked about is again, that golden triangle of government – not relying solely on government though, business, and civil society organizations like yours, public policy think-tanks like yours, coming together and talking about how we have more sound science, how we can have better science and how we can collaborate more to make sure that consumers are better educated, government officials are better educated and that we can have a consensus of view forward on how to deal with some of these major issues that you have outlined.

And many of our regulatory affairs executives and scientific executives are involved in those discussions and I’m very happy even to even re-commit them a very productive dialogue with organizations like yours. And I’m very happy to be also a part of those where it can serve a purpose.

“It is encouraging to hear an industry leader that is willing to push back against these anti-GMO activists,” said Danhof. “A whole lot of folks have bought into the fear campaign regarding high-yield produce, which is often financed by the organic food lobby. Corporate tepidness has played a part in allowing this misinformation campaign to gain so much momentum. As a perpetual target of these attacks, it is incumbent upon Coca-Cola’s leadership to be pro-active in the GMO debate.”

In 2014, National Center representatives spoke with many major food companies about doing more to engage the public in the debate over GMOs.

On three occasions, the National Center urged investors to reject unscientific shareholder resolutions concerning GMO labeling. After National Center representatives explained the safety and promise of GMOs, shareholders of Safeway, Monsanto and General Mills each rejected proposals regarding mandatory GMO-labeling.

“A little education goes a long way on the GMO issue,” said Danhof. “Since the other side’s arguments lack merit and are based only on fear, the public is quick to take to reasoned explanations that are fact-based and rooted in science. Someone just has to be in the public sphere continually making that case. I hope Coca-Cola and other food and beverage companies start taking that role more seriously.”

To read more of Danhof’s writings on GMOs, click here. You can also watch Danhof debate the GMO issue with liberal talk radio host Thom Hartmann here.

The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group focusing on shareholder meetings and work with big business. So far in 2014-15, National Center representatives have participated in 66 shareholder meetings advancing free-market ideals in the areas of health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and many other important public policy issues.

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors. Sign up for free issue alerts here or follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter.

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Olympic Champion Defended after Attack by Nanny State Group

Nanny State Group Questions Michelle Kwan’s Dual Roles as Both Member of the President’s Council on Fitness and Coca-Cola Ambassador

Policy Group Calls Attack on Kwan’s Role “Absurd,” Says Food Police Groups Undermine Fight Against Obesity by Being Too Absolutist

New York, NY/Washington DC – Today the National Center for Public Policy Research put out a call for food police groups to shift their focus away from radicalized attacks on the food industry, to instead being part of a broader discussion that should be taking place about how to address obesity, with a focus on helping consumers.

The latest foray from food police group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) comes in the form of an attack on Olympic figure skating champion Michelle Kwan, who is a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and who appears in ads for Coca-Cola.

A CSPI press release says “the dual roles for the five-time world champion skater cannot be reconciled, since Coca-Cola and the President’s Council communicate opposing messages when it comes to sugar drinks.”

“This absolutist view is not only absurd, it undermines public health by suggesting that people who enjoy an occasional sugary beverage cannot be active, athletic, and healthy,” says New York-based Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow of the National Center for Public Policy Research and director of its Risk Analysis Division.

“In fact, the President’s Council on Fitness does not recommend eliminating sugary drinks. Instead, it cites the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which states, “More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, often as a result of unhealthy diets and a sedentary lifestyle. To improve our nation’s health, the Dietary Guidelines recommend reducing [emphasis added] a range of ingredients, foods, and beverages, including sugary soda.”

Stier adds: “Michelle Kwan’s Coca-Cola endorsement does not suggest consumers drink too much soda. If anything, it conveys that people who do enjoy soda, can do so in moderation while also avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.”

“This latest campaign against food and beverage manufacturers further supports the conclusion that when it comes to addressing obesity, the most prominent public health activists are intent on turning the discussion about obesity into a war, rather than a solvable problem,” Stier continues. “Any notion that CSPI’s message is moderate, mainstream, or scientific was shattered when Michael Jacobson slipped and showed his underlying ideology in a piece for the Huffington Post where he derided the notion of a balanced diet by actually putting the word ‘balance’ in scare quotes.”

“Balance and moderation are central concepts not only to addressing obesity, but a healthier overall lifestyle. Public health groups who reject these messages should be rejected themselves,” Stier concludes.

Last year, CSPI fell flat on its face when it criticized a Coca Cola TV commercial that recognized that sugary drinks should play a role in the broader discussion about obesity. Stier wrote about the issue here.

New York City-based Jeff Stier is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and heads its Risk Analysis Division. Stier is a frequent guest on CNBC, and has addressed health policy on CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, as well as network newscasts. Stier’s National Center op-eds have been published in top outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, Newsday, Forbes, the Washington Examiner and National Review Online. He also frequently discusses risk issues on Twitter at @JeffaStier.

Stier has testified at FDA scientific meetings, met with members of Congress and their staff about science policy, met with OMB/OIRA officials, and has submitted testimony to state government legislative hearings. Most recently, he testified before the science committee of the New York City Council about e-cigarettes and submitted testimony to the Oklahoma and Rhode Island legislatures on the same matter.

Stier previously worked in both the office of the mayor and in the corporation counsel’s office during the Giuliani administration in New York City. His responsibilities included planning environmental agency programs, legal analysis of proposed legislation, and health policy. Mr. Stier also is chairman of the board of the Jewish International Connection, NY. While earning his law degree at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, he served two terms as editor-in-chief of the Cardozo Law Forum.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations, and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.

Contributions are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.

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Some Like Wild Turkey With Their Coke

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