Skip to main content

Child labour on controvertial MNC Monsanto Bt cotton farms just 0.18% of workforce, but 28% on other farms: Dutch report

By Our Representative
A well-researched Dutch report, which has sharply criticized Gujarat and Rajasthan governments for failing to take any steps against child labour in Bt cotton farms, has surprisingly praised multinational corporations (MNCs), including the controversial Monsanto, for taking “exemplary” initiatives in fighting the evil. It has said, efforts by “Bayer, Monsanto, Du Pont and few local companies have had some positive impact in reducing the number of working children.”
Giving data of of “positive impact” of MNCs, the report, titled "Cotton's Forgotten Children", authored by Dr Davuluri Venkateswarlu, says, “The proportion of child labour to the total workforce on the farms producing seeds for these companies has dropped significantly”, and in 2014-15 it has reached “less than 2 per cent.”
Approvingly quoting the data provided by Bayer and Monsanto, report,released in The Hague last week, says, “The incidence child labour in terms of proportion of children to total workers for 2014-15 is 0.014% on Bayer farms and 0.18% on Monsanto farms”.
As against this, the report says, during 2014-15, the proportion of children (below 14 years) to the total workforce on farms producing seeds by non-MNC companies, including Mahyco, which has a tieup with Monsanto, varied “between 20.4% and 28.6% in different states”.
This wasn’t achieved easily, though, the report suggests. “Since 2010, many developments have occurred which have influenced the nature and magnitude of child labour and working conditions of the labourers in the Indian seed industry. The intensified pressure from international NGOs and social investors like Norges Bank urged MNCs like Bayer, Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont to continue their efforts to address the problem of child labour in their supply chain.”
The report points to how “the decision of Norges Bank to exclude Zuari seed company from its investment portfolio in 2013, as result of the prevalence of child labour, sent strong signals to companies about human rights concerns of social investors.”
Thanks to this, it adds, “Other companies like Namdhari, Kalash Seeds (formerly Bejo Sheetal), Advanta, Nuziveedu etc. have started interventions, though in a limited way, to address the issues of child labour in their suppliers’ farms.”
The report studied a total of 396 farms surveyed, pointing out, of these, 138 (35%) were producing seed for multinationals or its joint venture partners and the remaining 258 for local Indian companies. It says, “The names of MNCs included in the survey are Monsanto and its Indian partner Mahyco (Monsanto holds 26% share in Mahyco), Bayer, Advanta (owned by United Prosperous Ltd) and Xylem Seeds (subsidiary of DuPont Pioneer).”
Refusing to take a stand against the genetically modified (GM) cotton seed, despite a strong environmental lobbies led by Vandana Shiva against it, the report says, “The term ‘hybrid’ refers to a plant variety developed through specific, controlled crossing of two parent plants. Usually, the parents are naturally compatible varieties within the same species.”
Favouring this “hybridization, or the crossing of compatible varieties”, the report says, this happens “naturally in the wild; plant breeders basically just steer the process to control the outcome.” It adds, “Unlike hybrids, which are developed in the field using natural, low-tech methods, GM varieties are created in a lab using highly complex technology, such as gene splicing.”
The report further says, “These high-tech GM varieties can include genes from several species — a phenomenon that almost never occurs in nature. The Bt technology developed by Monsanto includes genetic material from the bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which kills bollworm pest.”
Pointing out that this hybrid technology was introduced in cotton in 1970s in India, the report says, “In early 2000s Bt technology was incorporated in existing cotton hybrids. Whether it is traditional hybrid or Bt hybrid the process used for multiplication of seed (emasculation and pollination) is same.”
“The area under Bt cotton hybrids, has seen a significant increase in recent years. Bt cotton was officially introduced in India in 2002-03. Beginning with 93,992 acres in 2002-03, the area under Bt cotton hybrids increased to nearly 31 million acres covering about 94% of the total cotton area in 2013-14”, the report says.
The production area controlled by Monsanto, Bayer, DuPont, Advanta, Mahyco (Monsanto partner) increased almost four times from 7,680 acres in 2006-07 to 30,000 acres in 2014-15. During the same period the share of MNCs in the total production area increased from 12.7% to 31.6%.”

Comments

TRENDING

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

India's 'improved' air quality due to market slowdown, Delhi most polluted world capital

By Rajiv Shah
Stating that, regionally, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East carry the highest burden of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution overall, a high-profile report, jointly prepared by the top environmental NGO Greenpeace has said, "Of the world’s top 30 most polluted cities during 2019, 18 are located in India, 28 in South Asia, and all the top 30 cities are within greater Asia."