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Case 1 Monsanto

Monsanto Case
Miami Dade College
Yusnay Ramirez
Morabia Padron
Hilda Bracho
1. Does Monsanto maintain an ethical culture that effectively responds to various
While we were analyzing Monsanto’s case, it comes to our mind two important concepts.
First, the evidence that Monsanto Company Management need to understand what ethical culture
is about. Therefore, ethical culture reflects the integrity of decision-making process and it is a
function and related to many factors, including corporate policies, top management’s leadership
on ethical issues, the influence of coworkers, and the opportunity to avoid unethical behavior
(page 134). This consideration is linked to another important variable in any business´s
environment: the stakeholders. They are known as those whose association is absolutely
necessary for the firm’s survival; it includes the employees, the customers, the investors, and the
shareholders, as well as the governments and communities that provide necessary infrastructure
(page 32). As a result, these two definitions are closely related and all companies, including
Monsanto, need to understand the importance of having a stakeholder orientation programs.
In the Monsanto’s case, ethical and legal issues have been present throughout the
evolution of the company, which started as a chemical company back in the 1900’s, and moving
to a current organization where the main activities are based on biotechnology focused on the
genetically modified product (GM), specially modified seeds. Along with its evolution, Monsanto
has failed to its stakeholders countless times taking action without measuring the consequences.
One of the major legal issues faced by the company goes back to the 1970’s when the company
produced a chemical known as Agent Orange. This chemical was used during the Vietnam War;
however, it contained a chemical called dioxin that was found extremely carcinogenic. This issue
ended up with a lawsuit on behalf of hundreds of veterans that assured being affected by this
chemical. Another important misconduct of the company is related to the facts that for more than
forty years they released toxic waste and polychlorinated biphenyls (highly toxic chemical) in
areas of Anniston, Alabama. Even though papers show that the top management of the company
was aware of that situation, they did not stop it; a situation that made the company to pay a
settlement of 700 million to the Anniston´s residents. More recently, the company has faced the
concern from stakeholders in term of moral and safety implication of GM food. This assumption
has been divided between those who think that biotech crops are unnatural and might have
potential toxic- effects in human and animal health, and those advocates that sustain the Food and
Drug Administration assumption that biotech crops are safe. Others unethical conducts that have
affected that company’s image are those related to bribery such as the 2002 case that took place
in Indonesia. The violation was related to an official who was paid with a bribe of $50,000 in
exchange for bypassing an environmental study. In addition, other recent legal issues at the U.S.
were the claims against the company by the local residents in Nitro, West Virginia who sued the
company for health problems associated with Agent Orange Plant.
On the other hand, it is valid to mention that even though Monsanto has incurred several
ethical problems in the past. Recently, they have tried to amend those situations. Multiples have
been the action taken in term of environmental and health concerns. They state that all products
and seeds created have been tested by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and
approved. They also have taken care of the glyphosate in Roundup herbicide to not end up in the
ground-water preventing the water contamination and minimizing the effect on aquatic species.
They have also developed a partnership with an institution such as Conservation International to
preserve the biodiversity. They have spent millions of dollar to improve all those communities
where they do business being ranked as an institution like Corporate Responsibility Magazine
due to their corporate responsibility performance. The Company has created a Code of Business
Conduct that serves guidance on the company’s ethical expectation and integrity among toward
its stakeholders as well as a pledge that informs stakeholders about the company’s ethical
commitments. It is important to mention that the company has developed a tree – tiered
commitment policy: (1) produce more yields in crops, (2) Conserve more resources, and (3)
improve the lives of farmers (Page 390).
2. Compare the benefits of growing GM seeds for crops with the potential negative
consequences of using them?
The benefits of growing GM seeds in crops are the higher productivity with a positive
growth of crops in soils or lands that would not normally promise great results on some seeds,
mainly in less developed countries. As the molecular structure has been genetically modified,
they can introduce seeds that do not require herbicides and pesticides to prevent bugs from eating
them and also the weeds do not negatively affect the harvest process and use less water with. In
this way the farmers can develop their work in a better way, ensuring the success of their work
and their economy becoming the business more profitable.
However, there are some considerations about the negative consequences of this process,
especially for the human health and the environment itself; it’s not yet known exactly what could
be the negative impact to human being when genetically manipulating the seeds, since when they
consume the food from the harvests of these seeds, they could be exposed to consequences not
yet discovered. This effect is extended to nature because, in the areas where the GM seeds are
used, the fauna and some species have shown physiological changes that are associated with the
GM seeds. The seeds by itself are exposed to changes in the interaction with the environment and
after the harvests once have sold are not controlled at the genetic level. Finally, there are some
GM seeds that do not reproduce naturally. This determines that the farmers must purchase the
GM seeds from the suppliers creating a dependency that force them to accept prices and
conditions (monopoly practices).
3. How should Monsanto manage the potential harm to plant and animal life from using
products such as Roundup?
Monsanto Company is the world's largest seed company. They not only are the leader in
GM products but also they possess the patent on the genetic code of thousands of products. In
order for Monsanto to manage the accusations related to the harmful of their products on the
human and animal life by ingestion of their seeds, they should modify their advertising and
clarify that there are studies that evidence that GM food is safe to consume. It is also estimated
that GM crops have prevented the use of 965 million pounds of pesticides and increase the
availability of food in many countries. Stakeholders have been informed about the importance of
GM food and the issues which involve the Roundup herbicide. The Company has a program to
evaluate any risks associated with the toxicity of the glyphosate since the product is the
Roundup’s main ingredient, but some experts such as The New York Medical College believes
that Roundup does not produce a health risk for humans. Monsanto Company should also make
clear that Roundup will not contaminate water. The mission and vision of the Monsanto must
address their concerns and purposes of creating better crops and to support the sustainability of
nature as a core goal.
Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2017). Business ethics: ethical decision making and
cases (10th ed., University of New Mexico). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. Special
Edition MDC.