Nooyi admits to mistakes in handling pesticide controversy | india | Hindustan Times
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Nooyi admits to mistakes in handling pesticide controversy

india Updated: Jun 07, 2007 16:39 IST

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PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi has blamed herself for not handling the pesticides-in-cola controversy properly, saying she should have been in India to propagate the safety of the company's soft drinks.

"One thing I should have done was to appear in India three years ago and say: 'Cut it out. These products are the safest in the world, bar none, and your tests are wrong'," Nooyi told US-based magazine BusinessWeek in an interview.

Talking about the controversy emanating from Centre for Science and Environment's report alleging pesticide residues in soft drinks, the India-born CEO admitted the company's marketing strategy also made the matter worse.

"Combine the public seeing the mercenary side of us, along with the fact that this was an American company," Nooyi, who was then the chief financial officer of PepsiCo, said.

Before the pesticides controversy, the Supreme Court had in December 2002 pulled up PepsiCo for damaging environment by painting advertisement on rocks in Himalayan mountains. This was followed by allegations of depleting ground water by its various bottling units.

She, however, added the public didn't see "the other things we were doing" and implied the company was a victim of its own image.

"If we get attention, it's not because of the water we use. It is because of what we represent," Nooyi said.

"What we don't want is for people to think that industry is taking out of the ground God-given natural resources and depleting that community of its livelihood or requirements for existence," she added.