On March 1, 2018, the Council on Ethics recommended that UPL Ltd. (UPL) be placed under observation due to the use of child labour in connection with its seed business in India.
Over a period of several years, the Council on Ethics has investigated the extent of child labour on behalf of the seed company Advanta Seeds (Advanta), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of UPL. Field studies carried out in the 2016–2017 growing season indicate that children under the age of 15 still make up approximately 10 per cent of the workers engaged in seed production for the company.
In a letter to the Council on Ethics, UPL has explained that it will continue and reinforce its efforts to scale back the use of child labour, for example though unannounced spot checks at production sites. Advanta’s measures against child labour are now included in UPL’s legal compliance procedures and its auditing plan. The Council presumes that this will add greater weight to and result in closer follow up of the improvement initiatives than was previously the case at Advanta.
The Council on Ethics considers that the conditions, in and of themselves, are sufficient grounds to recommend the company’s exclusion from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG). The Council’s decision to recommend that the company be placed under observation springs from a wish to wait and see the outcome of these additional efforts.
On July 10, 2018, Norges Bank announced its decision to follow the company UPL Ltd’s work to counteract child labour as part of the fund’s active ownership efforts over a period of five years.