SECTION III - CHALLENGES AHEAD
Bayer in particular seems not to be comfortable with the joint field monitoring system and sharing and review of farm inspections data with other stakeholders. This becomes evident from the half-hearted implementation of the joint agreement during the last two years. Bayer recently indicated that from next season onwards they are going to have a new system of field monitoring to be controlled by the company internally, which is different from what they have done since 2005-06. Monsanto indicated that it will follow the same system of joint field monitoring in collaboration with local NGOs and other stakeholders. Both Bayer and Monsanto have indicated that they are going to expand their total production area (including expansion to new areas and contracting new growers) significantly in the coming season. Bayer indicated that it is going to increase its cottonseed production area in 2007-08 crop season by nearly six times (from 281 acres in 2006-07 to about 1800 acres in 2007-08) over 2006-079. Monsanto also indicated that it has plans to increase its production area by nearly 100% during 2007- 08. Effectively implementing a no-child labour programme in new areas requires a lot of advance preparation on the part of companies before the beginning of the season. If last year’s experience of Bayer in Karnataka is any indication the company is currently unprepared to face the challenges in implementing a similar programme in new areas.
If companies have a clear policy on child labour, they are obligated to implement that policy irrespective of production locations and types of operations. Currently this is not happening. Both companies are responding where-ever there is pressure and whenever problems are pointed out. A responsible company would need to have a similar policy regarding child labour (and other labour rights) for all its locations and operations as a matter of principle and as a matter of consistency with its own code of conduct or corporate responsibility policy.
Currently Bayer and Monsanto are addressing the child labour problem in cottonseed operations directly controlled by them. But the companies have not yet taken serious steps to implement the same in :
a) cottonseed operations indirectly controlled by them through their joint venture companies, suppliers and sub licensees and b) other seeds operations directly owned by these companies.
Nunhems, a Dutch company, is a subsidiary company of Bayer and Seminis is a subsidiary of Monsanto exclusively involved in vegetable seed production. The problem
9 281 acres in 2006-07 includes production area under Rabi season also. With regard to proposed area for 2007-08 the figure of 1800 acres was stated by the Bayer representative in CCP state level monthly meeting held on 18-5-07. However a different figure (1000 acres) was reported by Bayer to the press on 19-5-07. `Bayer BioScience to increase hybrid cotton seed production`, The Financial Express, 19-5-07 (http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=161598