Monsanto being a global organization dealing with modern agriculture, it has succeeded in becoming the largest seed company in the world. The company’s website provides adequate information on how successful they have become over the past years. The company has utilized scientific innovation with a major focus on genetic modification (Monsanto, 2017). Notably, genetic modification to a deep history of farming has been welcomed by a number of praises as well as much criticism regarding the detrimental impacts. This innovation is not different from other innovations in the world that have been made before because they all come with excitement and skepticism. Farmers have been benefiting from the company’s stronger and tougher seeds that have high productivity and profitability. The farmers enjoy the benefits of Monsanto’s seeds as they manage to meet the ever-increasing demands of the global population. However, due to health concerns, consumers have become more resistant as they want to ensure that the agricultural products they consume are ever safe. Genetic modification has thus, become the critical agricultural innovation in the contemporary society, but it there is the need to understand better ways of growing safe and enough food for the ever-growing world population. .
The current company operations started in 2002 despite the company being founded in 1901 where it started with the production of an artificial sweetener. The company has been in operation for over a century meaning that it has a deep history to be explored. However, from the case study, only the more recent history is discussed. This shows that the past history has no good reputation for the company that has been creating the household product RoundUp over the years. Notably, Monsanto produced the chemical Agent Orange which raised many legal concerns in the 1970 (Ferrell et al., 2015). This was followed by the discovery of a release of chemicals into land fields and toxic waste into a creek in Alabama. The company’s CEO, Hugh Grant joined the company despite having a history of controversy. Currently, issues have been raised regarding consumer safety with relevance to the consumption of genetically modified products. Environmental concerns have also been raised regarding the spray of herbicides and pesticides in conjunction with the use of Monsanto‘s seeds that have been genetically modified. Although most of Monsanto‘s products have been legally and scientifically researched, satisfactory answers are yet to be found. From farmers who cannot reuse the seeds from their products who must purchase new seeds to competitors cannot compete due to patents and corporate power feels the squeeze that Monsanto has put on the industry. More recently, Monsanto has tried to turn around their image with the world. They have increased food production for increasing population, increased farmers profitability, complied with legal issues with competitors, improved communities in developing countries and has given millions in charitable donations and scholarships.
Costs and Benefits of Growing GM Seed
As many things in the world we must always weigh the benefits with the risks of anything. For instance, if a new drug is found to cure a once incurable disease but if used it will cause that person to lose a limb would it be worth putting on the market? GMO seeds can be seen in a similar light. “Developing countries must weigh potential for poverty reduction against possible loss of biodiversity over time, famine and malnutrition against reliance on Western-bred ‘frankenfoods’ and economic independence against reliance on Western companies like Monsanto to provide seeds and agricultural know-how (Scuro, 2007, p. 395). With populations expected to increase tremendously in future years, food production must be increased or starvation and malnutrition may become a real problem. Global warming is also another issue in the contemporary world. The climate of the earth is ever changing and crops must be modified to grow in these environments. GMO seeds have been put on the market to help increase crop production, help seeds grow in unfavorable weather conditions and modified to include genes that will kill bugs and RoundUp to kill weeds without having to use sprays. These all will be a benefit to the overall wellbeing of the future of food production of the world. However, some people think the risks to the environment, health, economies and the agricultural market in general will outweigh the benefits. Many are fearful of the unknown aspects of the use of this technology. Data is not available for the long-term effects of the use of GMO seeds in our agriculture. Many are worried about future health and environmental problems that may arise in the future. “Opponents of the technology voice concerns over seed monopolies, reduced consumer sovereignty, the misappropriation of indigenous knowledge, neocolonialism, and the perpetuation of social and economic inequities within and between communities” (Komparic, 2015, p. 607). Many are wary of Monsanto’s creation of the GMO seed and the seemly monopoly they hold in this area. They are afraid that they have too much power and can skew the way that GMO seeds are used.
Management of Harm to Plants and Animals
Many believe that the use of GMO seeds is an environmental nightmare. “Genetic engineering pollution and contamination are inevitable since it is not possible to prevent seeds from being spread by the wind or other natural causes” (Hummels & Timmer, 2004, p. 82). They are also concerned with the unintentional spread of these seeds to other crops, the use of more chemical sprays, the effects on animals and insects and herbicide and pesticide resistance issues. Monsanto has suggested that farmers use crop rotation in fields that have non-GMO seeds, vary their herbicide use to other products to help lower the risk of the development of resistance and even creating refuges that have 20% of fields planted with non-GMO seeds (Ferrell et al., 2015). However, the governance of these procedures is up to the farmers themselves and many believe that these procedures will not be followed. As we all know, birds, insects and animals all eat the seeds that are planted as well as drink water from streams located throughout farmland. Many are concerned about what these types of seeds will do to these creatures when it is ingested as well as animals drinking water that may be contaminated with herbicides and pesticides sprayed close by. Monsanto should be concerned about these issues since this is their creation however, farmers must be good stewards of the environment and practice safe growing techniques to aid in the safety of our environment for generations to come.
Perceptions, attitudes, and public knowledge of biotech products are essential factors that have a significant influence on the contribution of biotech crops on global food supply in the modern society. Many people take for granted where food comes from. They believe that it just magically appears in the supermarket for their consumption. They don’t realize that farmers across the world are working to keep them food on the table. Farmers must take a lot of risk when they go into business. They must fight weather, animals, insects, etc. to get a make a living. GM seeds are beneficial to farmers as they help them alleviate various risks they may face during crop production. However, society justifiably is concerned with this innovative technology being used in items that will eventually be used for human consumption. They also are concerned for the environmental ramifications of the usage of the seeds and the chemicals developed to use alongside them. Often with innovative technology there is no historic data to help ease concerns but if we allowed that to stop technological growth we may never have found medicines like penicillin or known if a spacecraft would make it to the moon. People are already starving daily because of food shortages so change must happen now to save lives in the future. The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 9:6, (English Standard Version) “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness”.
Monsanto. (2017, September 24). Company Page. Retrieved from https://monsanto.com
Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J. & Ferrell, L. (2015). Business ethics: ethical decision making and cases (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
Robaey, Z. (2015). Looking for moral responsibility in ownership: A way to deal with hazards of GMOs. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 28(1), 4 3-56. doi:10.1007/s10806-014-9517-8
Scuro, A. (2007). Are GMOs good or bad seeds in the developing world: Discussion of the growing role of developing countries in the debate over climate change and the loss of biodiversity, Fordham Environmental Law Review, 18(2), 369-398.
Komparic, A. (2015). The ethics of introducing GMOs into sub-saharan Africa: Considerations from the sub-saharan african theory of Ubuntu. Bioethics, 29(9), 604-612. doi:10.1111/bioe.12191
Hummels, H., & Timmer, D. (2004). Investors in need of social, ethical, and environmental information. Journal of Business Ethics, 52(1), 73-84. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25075233
Teng, P. S. (2008). An Asian perspective on GMO and biotechnology issues. Asia Pacific Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, 17(S1), 237-240.
The Holy Bible. English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles.