LIFESTYLE

Gulp! Bolivia Presents Coca Leaf Soda. The U.S. Objects

The United States is urging all countries to file formal objections to Bolivia’s announcement that it had developed a coca leaf  soft drink, according to a U.S. government official.

The official said the U.S. would itself file an objection specified by a 50-year-old U.N. treaty.

"We hope that a number of other countries will file as well," the official told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He spoke on condition he not be further identified, citing the topic's political sensitivity.

"Coca Brynco" is a mass-produced coca-based soft drink. It was officially presented to the public by the Bolivian government on Tuesday, a few days after Morales displayed it to foreign media during a press conference in which he defended coca leaf.

Johnny Vargas, the production and quality control manager for bottling firm Tipo, which is producing Coca Brynco, told Efe that about half of the 25,000 bottles of the drink that had been produced had been distributed for the launching of the beverage nationwide.

Bolivia, like neighboring Peru, permits limited cultivation of coca for legal use in cooking, folk medicine and Andean religious rites. Unadulterated coca is a mild stimulant that counteracts the effects of altitude sickness and suppresses hunger pangs.

The deadline for nations to raise objections with the United Nations to Bolivia's proposed amendment to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to remove language that obliges signatories to prohibit the chewing of coca leaves is Jan. 31st. If none are registered, it would automatically take effect.

The Associated Press and Efe contributed to this report.

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