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Transnational and Indian Companies Profiting from Massive Child Labour in Cottonseed Production

Posted to the IUF website 10-Oct-2004

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Two new reports from the India Committee of the Netherlands document the persistence of massive child labour in transnational and Indian companies involved in cottonseed production. The Committee's report on cottonseed farms in Andhra Pradesh shows an estimated 12,375 children working "in horrendous conditions" on farms producing for the following TNCs: Advanta (Dutch), Bayer (German), Emergent Genetics (US, with co-investment from Anglo-Dutch Unilever) and Monsanto (US). The children work long hours, do not attend school and face death and illness through pesticide exposure. Some 70% of the child workers are in debt bondage to their employers. Investigators found an additional 70,000 children working under similar circumstances for Indian companies.

A second report shows an estimated 117,800 children under 15 working on cottonseed farms producing for Indian and transnational companies in the states of Gujarat and Karnataka.

The companies promised measures to eradicate child labour in response to public outrage after a report last year found that children constituted up to 90% of the labour force in the cottonseed industry in Andhra Pradesh. The latest reports show that there has been little or no progress. The transnationals in particular have proven reluctant to alter the procurement practices which encourage child and bonded labour. According to the Indian MV Foundation, which is monitoring the situation, the children are "locked in an unequal partnership under contractual relationship with a powerful industry... It has proven time and again beyond doubt that the powerful global players who claim to uphold themselves to their codes of conduct and corporate social responsibility have flouted all norms of human rights and values.

The reports can be downloaded (in English) together with related information at http://www.indianet.nl/katoenz_e.html