Soft Drinks vs. Human Rights

You may not have heard of gum arabic but you've almost certainly drunk it, eaten it or worn makeup that depends on it. Tapped from acacia trees growing across Sudan's "gum" belt, the wonder ingredient was first used in Egyptian mummification 5,000 years ago.

Today it is vital as an emulsifier and suspension agent in soft drinks and candy bars and as a stabilizer in cosmetics and newspaper ink. Scientists have yet to find or invent an exact alternative to the amber-like substance, so products such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Minute Maid rely on imports from Sudan, which...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!