Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd door / published in: Business and Corporate Ethics, 23-9-2003
Monsanto, Syngenta, ProAgro agree measures to tackle child labour in India
HONG KONG (AFX-GEM) - Global seed producers Syngenta AG of Switzerland, Monsanto Co , India's ProAgro and US firm Advanta Corp have set up a joint taskforce with local NGOs to tackle child labour in Indian hybrid cotton seed production, the head of Syngenta Seeds India said.
The Child Labour Eradication Group (CLEG) was formed at a meeting in Hyderabad on September 6-7 which was attended by Indian representatives of the world's biggest seed producers as well as anti-child labour activist group MV Foundation.
The new group, which is tasked to police the fields that harvest cotton on behalf of the member companies, is due to meet again in October, at which point the group will present a proposal on how they should combat the child labour problem.
"The committee will come up with a proposal. We have [already] come up with a code of conduct to eliminate child labour in our production process and this includes putting terms in contracts, penalising growers," Pawan Malik, head of Syngenta Seeds India told AFX Global Ethics Monitor.
MV Foundation has been pushing the companies for some time to take responsibility for the actions of their third party contractors in Andhra Pradesh, as well as introducing penalties on those that continue to employ children.
Andhra Pradesh in southern India is a major cotton field region and the source of the key complaints over child labour.
MV Foundation has also urged producers to introduce labelling on the seeds to indicate to buyers that the crops were picked without the aid of children.
Malik said the formation of the group was an admission on behalf of the companies that they had responsibility for the actions of their third party contractors.
This is something that has been denied in the past by Hindustan Lever, the Indian arm of consumer goods giant Unilever, that contracts through Emergent Genetics, also present at the meeting.
The new group has limited funding, said Malik and equally limited authority, though this should change once a full report has been submitted based on the committee's own research.
"I don't think it has authority at the moment, at this point the idea isn't to penalise people it is to recognise the extent of the problem and to figure out how to solve it," he said.
"A few ideas have been thrown up, giving some support to villages that go in that direction. Clearly there is a move to recognise and reward farmers and villagers that move in that direction."
Landelijke India Werkgroep - 15 oktober 2003