Seeds of change: impact of interventions by Bayer and Monsanto on the elimination of child labour on farms producing hybrid cottonseed in India

Seeds of change: impact of interventions by Bayer and Monsanto on the elimination of child labour on farms producing hybrid cottonseed in India

Can multinationals in the cotton industry eliminate child labour?

This document discusses issues of child labour with particular reference to the cotton seed supply chain. The report focuses on the impact of two multinational companies actions in India, Bayer and Monsanto.

The author shows that the multinationals policies have resulted in a decrease in use of child labour in India. However, they are yet unprepared to tackle the problem systematically in states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu where there is less local pressure. This is even more important now that Bayer is going to increase its production areas nearly six times and Monsanto, already being the main market player, is doubling it.

Findings include:

  • if companies have a clear policy on child labour, they are obligated to implement that policy irrespective of production locations and types of operations
  • both Monsanto and Bayer are responding where there is pressure but do not have a similar policy on child labour rights for all its locations as a matter of principle and consistency with its own corporate responsibility policy 
  • while Bayer and Monsanto are addressing the child labour problem in cottonseed
    operations directly controlled by them, they do not do so for cottonseed operations indirectly controlled by them or other seeds operations directly owned by them.

The report concludes that the big challenge for Monsanto and Bayer is to extend their no-child policy to their joint venture companies, subsidiaries, suppliers and sub-licenses involved in production and marketing of cotton and other seed operations.