India CSR News Network
MUMBAI: The year 2016, is symbolic for Monsanto’s Human Rights Program. With completion of 10 years of Monsanto’s Human Rights Policy adoption, this signifies our relentless journey of addressing social issues like child labour, adding newer value systems in rural lives like anti – venom program, bringing safety into rural lifestyles, respecting farm women and adopting villages to build basic infrastructure.
Human Rights are the backbone to every nation’s cultural, social, and economic development. They are basic standards or values that enable people to live with dignity. Over the years, Monsanto has set new benchmarks in the industry by developing most innovative models and processes to address social issues in rural parts of the country.
Nine elements of human rights:
- Child Labor
- Forced Labor
- Working Hours
- Harassment and Violence
- Freedom of Association
- Legal Compliance
10 years of adoption of Human Rights Policy
Monsanto’s Human Rights Policy is consistent with the ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ framework introduced in 2011 in the U.N. Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.
It is the company’s constant endeavor to create value and be of service to the communities they operate in. The adoption of Monsanto’s Human Rights policy 10 years ago is a reflection of the company’s commitment towards the communities they work in the years to come.
Monsanto’s efforts through its Human Rights policy have helped farmers reduce child labor on Indian hybrid cotton seed production fields from 20 per cent in 2004 (prior to Monsanto acquiring its hybrid cotton seed brand) to less than 0.5 per cent in 2014. Monsanto’s field reporting and tracking has also been acknowledged by the United States Department of Labor. Over the past 10 years Monsanto has helped in promoting child welfare and safety at farms through its highly successful Human Rights Policies.
Spreading awareness against child labor
Monsanto believes that children are harbingers of change and the hope of a better future in every society. However, child labor has always been a challenge in India that has led to the stifling of India’s future. Historic practices, cultural expectations, and, at times, a lack of available schools for children in rural areas has contributed to the use of child labor on farms, resulting in illiteracy, malnutrition, and other social development issues in children. Monsanto recognized this social issue and has played an active role in eliminating child labor on farms through it’s Child Care Program in India.
Monsanto proactively incorporated a ‘No Child Labor’ clauses in farmer and third-party contracts. Monsanto also organizes massive Farmer Awareness Campaigns on an ongoing basis that use posters, door-to-door visits, leaflets, and a Farmer Social Pledge to spread awareness on the adverse effects of this social evil.
Monsanto regularly conducts Field Audits by ensuring surprise visits by seed coordinators, production managers, external auditors, and CCP Members. Based on the reports generated by its inspection team Monsanto provides incentive or disincentive schemes, where farmers employing only adult labor receive an additional incentive which helps them afford the same; and discourages the thought of employing child labor in the future. Villages with zero child labor are also recognized as model villages and rewarded accordingly by Monsanto.
Making the farms safer
A key point of concern that Monsanto identified as core to its area of functioning in India was the fact that there was negligible amount of farm safety being practiced by farmers across the country. The Monsanto India field team of almost 500 full-time and contracted field staff were roped in to design a unique snake anti-venom program in 2008. The program involves a systematic approach of identifying snake-bite prone locations in seed production villages, placing appropriate number of anti-venom kits with local doctors, and creating awareness amongst growers on the proper response to a snake bite.
Since its inception this program has spread to the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Haryana where it has helped in impacting around thirty thousand growers spread over 2600 remote villages with a population of 6 million people.
Other farm safety initiatives promoted by Monsanto include farm level demonstrations conducted on using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as a protection against pesticide sprays, fencing of open wells, and identification and remediation of electrical hazards.
Photo Credit: http://www.monsanto.com/