Onderstaand artikel is gepubliceerd door: AFX Global Ethics Monitor, 17-6-2003      

Syngenta to urge Monsanto, Unilever, others to set up child labour monitor

Rachel Oliver

HONG KONG (AFX-GEM) - Swiss seed producer Syngenta will ask representatives from Monsanto, Unilever, Proagro and Advanta to meet in Andhra Pradesh, India with the aim of setting up an independent monitoring committee on child labour, according to a local NGO.

Hyderabad-based MV Foundation (MVF), which is campaigning for an end to child labour, met with representatives of Syngenta on Monday, including Michael Stopford, Syngenta's head of global public affairs and government relations, to discuss the company's practices.

"They agreed to have a monitoring committee but we said we cannot just have a committee for Syngenta, they have to facilitate with everyone else. We demanded a vigilant committee," said Shantha Sinha, chairwoman of MVF.
"So they said they would contact other multinationals to bring them together to come to a meeting in Andhra Pradesh."

Sinha said that the multinationals involved would be Unilever, Monsanto, Proagro and Advanta all of which have farms in Andhra Pradesh and have been accused of using child labour.

Syngenta stressed that the contracts it has with its partners in India instruct them not to use children. It promised to send MVF a copy of its terms to show its commitment to ending child labour. But, it also said it plans to halt seed production in Andhra Pradesh this year for 'business reasons'.

Sinha said Syngenta had offered funding to local NGOs to help them monitor the situation, but it was refused.

"They offered money but we said we didn't want any funding," said Sinha. "We don't want them to monitor us, we want to monitor them."

No firm deadline has been set for Syngenta to organize the meeting of multinationals but MVF is expecting a response in the next few days, before Syngenta's representatives leave India.



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Landelijke India Werkgroep - 23 juni 2003