Farmers in India have used Coca-Cola and Pepsi as substitutes for pesticides to keep crops free of bugs.
The use of pesticides to kill or control insects, weeds, fungi, rodents, and microbes that hinder crop growth is widespread. In the wake of increasing prices of chemicals manufactured by international companies, farmers in India have reportedly sprayed Coca-Cola and Pepsi in their fields.
In 2004, the Guardian reported that hundreds of farmers in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh were turning to Coke to save their crops from bugs and insects as soft drinks were much cheaper than chemical pesticides. The BBC, too, covered the news on how farmers in India tackle pests using soft drinks, noting that the trend of using Indian brands of colas was seen in the eastern Indian state of Chhattisgarh and in other parts of India.
Agricultural specialists Devendra Sharma and Sanket Thakur said that Indian farmers have been using soft drinks as a cheap alternative to pesticides to increase productivity. Coca-Cola spokesperson in Atlanta had asserted that they were aware of a single instance of a farmer using their soft drink for his crop management routine. However, it was ineffective in pest management.
CSE (Center for Science and Environment) and TERI, the leading voluntary agencies in India, analyzed soft drinks and discovered that Coca-Cola and Pepsi's brands contained pesticide residues higher than the specified norms.
Though there have been reports of farmers in India using Coca-Cola and Pepsi as substitutes for pesticides, it's not clear if this is still a practice, or if the practice was ever widespread in the first place. As such, we deem this claim to be partly true.
CORRECTION: We now judge this claim to be partly true instead of just true. This is to better reflect the fact that the reports are either very old or else not widespread.