Monsanto response to letter from India Committee of the Netherlands, regarding child labour at cotton seed suppliers for Mahyco-Monsanto in India

Monsanto sent the statement below to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in response to the following letter:

"Child labour at cotton seed suppliers for Mahyco-Monsanto in India”,
letter from India Committee of the Netherlands to Monsanto, 6 February 2006:

30 May 2006

We are in receipt of your letter of February 6, 2006. To avoid delays in response in the future, please forward all inquiries related to Monsanto’s human rights policy

We share your interest and concerns about child labor in India. Monsanto Company takes this matter very seriously. It is precisely our concern that led us to join the Child Labor Eradication Group (CLEG) of the Association of Seed Industry (ASI). While progress may not have been as swift as anticipated, we wanted to share two examples of our efforts aimed at further eliminating child labor practices within the country (estimated spend: 90,000 US$).

  • Monitoring and Education: 1 Rupee per packet of seed produced will go the Child Labor Eradication Program Fund (CLEP) to resource a dedicated staff; grower education and outreach; enforcement, monitoring and certification; and collaboration with NGO’s on child labor issue, including improving the livelihood of parents.

  • Rewards: Growers that do not use child labor in their seed production practices are rewarded for their actions. In the event, farmers continue to utilize child labor we have implemented criteria for penalizing them for their actions and, if the situation is not rectified, a farmer may have his seed production crop rejected and the farmer will be granted no further seed production contracts.
Child labor is a complex socio-economic problem and one that is unfortunately present all too often within the agriculture industry in India. This subject is much larger than one company. It will require systemic change and sustained commitment and collaboration between all sectors involved to ultimately make a difference.

To emphasize our commitment to the protection and advancement of human rights including, but not limited to, child labor, earlier this year Monsanto Company’s Board of Directors formally adopted a human rights policy for our company. It includes provisions on child labor, forced labor, compensation, working hours, harassment and violence, discrimination, safety, and freedom of association. A copy of Monsanto’s Human Rights policy, as well as background information, can be accessed via our company’s web site at

We are in the early stages of our implementation efforts that support this newly released policy. Monsanto will take a thoughtful, phased and systemic approach to implementation. It is this approach that will guide Monsanto’s efforts in India, as well. Implementation efforts will include communication about the policy to employees and Monsanto’s business partners, as well as the creation of operational guidelines and a management information system, training sessions, and audits as a means to verify compliance.

Additional information will be made available to the public as it becomes available. We will add your organization to our mailing list.

We appreciate your patience and understanding during this implementation period.

Monsanto Company
Human Rights Team

Landelijke India Werkgroep / India Committee of the Netherlands - June 21, 2006