>A Real Seed Project

>There are some interesting new postings on the FLA web site related to the FLA’s Syngenta project. As FLA groupies know, that project relates to the FLA’s unique application of its methodologies used in the apparel industry to agriculture. Several years ago the FLA was asked to address the problem of the use of child labor in the Indian seed supply chain. The FLA commissioned two independent studies to assess the risks and then, based on the result of these studies , developed a new approach to internal and external monitoring of labor standards. In addition to the child labor issue, the studies also revealed problems with wages, hours of work, and occupational safety and health.

The new postings including the summary report of the multi-stakeholder forum held late last year in Hyderabad, India dedicated to identify and develop a consensus around priority issues for monitoring in the vegetable seed production sector. Participants identified code awareness, health and safety, wages and benefits and child labor as the four priority issues to address in the agricultural sector.

Also recently posted is the Syngenta Task and risk mapping study. The FLA commissioned Dr. Davuluri Venkateshwarlu to study the tasks and labor compliance risks in the production of Syngenta Seeds’ vegetable seeds in India. Dr. Venkateshwarlu highlighted four high-risk tasks in hybrid vegetable seed production: (1) pesticide application; (2) hybridization; (3) harvesting; and (4) seed extraction. These tasks pose compliance risks related to health and safety, child labor, bonded or forced labor and excessive hours of work.

To read these reports and also a longer description of the Syngenta Project, click here.

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One Comment on “>A Real Seed Project”

  1. Rod says:

    >What are the FLA’s unique methodologies that were applied from the apparel industry to agriculture? I’m curious because the last time I checked, the FLA’s methods are no different from other certification entities, such as ISO standards. All of these “standards” are really weak, as they rely either on corporations applying self-imposed goals to themselves, or monitoring that tips off those being inspected. Also, two other points are worth noting. The FLA claims to want to find solutions to the problems of sweatshop labor, but heres a newsflash — monitoring doesn’t work! Even if the FLA had a perfect monitoring system (which it definitely doesn’t), monitoring alone wouldn’t stop labor abuses. Instead, methods that attack the system’s foundations are what’s needed. An example of this would be requiring corporations to pay sub-contractors enough money so that factory owners can in turn give workers a living wage. This kind of approach — not monitoring — represents real change, and to date, the FLA has come up with nothing on either fronts. Lastly, even though it is possible that the FLA’s independently commissioned reports could be good in quality, I doubt that the FLA will act upon their findings in any meaningful way. This is because the FLA is in bed with corporations — despite its independent rhetoric, a near majority of its board of directors come from corporations. Since a supermajority of the board is required to change the FLA’s mission, it is unlikely that any real change — i.e. actions that will affect corporations’ bottom lines — will come out of this body anytime soon…


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