Corporate Ethical Codes
Corporate codes of ethics direct the behaviors and decisions of corporate entities and their stakeholders. Thus, these codes of ethics are very important in any conventional workplace, and the decision to institute them is founded on the existence of a universal code of ethics to which all are expected to adhere and the need to have a stringent behavior code that distinguishes corporate entities from each other. In spite of the existence of a universal code of ethics and the need for corporate codes of ethics, it is not presumable that the universal set of ethical standards would suffice for all businesses (Schwartz, 2002). Each business has a unique set of characteristics, strategic plans, goals and vision, which differentiate it from other corporate entities. These sets of characteristics imply that besides keeping tabs with the universal code of conduct, each entity needs its independent codes of conduct that would not only reflect the internal characteristics of the organization, but also incorporate the external (social, political, environmental, and technological) factors, rules and regulations of the environment within which the business operates.
All corporate entities regardless of the background cultures within which they operate, work with a combination of the universal code of ethics and the internal codes. Organizational cultures and community cultural practices make it even more difficult for such enterprises to work entirely within the confines of the universal code of ethics without a consideration of the other codes of ethics. Cultural dispositions have significant impacts on business decision making as they affect the factors affecting business operations including consumer behaviors, supply characteristics, and general communication practices. Pope (2015), points out that ethical codes have to be developed within cultural contexts as they not only communicate basic standards but also foster admirable aspirations in organizations. Failure to place corporate codes of conduct within the cultural contexts in which they operate can result in failure to foster an ethically strong organization (Donaldson, 1991). For these reasons, ignoring the cultural differences in organizations and communities in which they operate by focusing only on the universal code of ethics can be impractical, and possibly detrimental to organizational sustainability.
Right to Influence Ethics
Organizations can influence community ethics in the same way community cultural beliefs and practices can affect organizational code of ethics. Behaviors considered ethical within a corporate entity may not be similar to those considered appropriate outside the business place. Various studies have been conducted to present the impacts of business ethics on societal ethics. For instance, Evans (1991), presented a thesis through which he suggested that business ethics should not be assumed to play a conservative role in the society, but should deviate from maintaining law and order within the context of the workplace to forming the basis of the society’s radical reordering. Accordingly, the argument presented by Evans is that corporate ethics should be allowed to influence societal and by extension national ethics.
Considering the outcomes of corporate ethics in communities, it is arguable that businesses should have both a right and a responsibility to influence national ethics. Businesses play a crucial role in nations’ economies, and in community development. Through corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities, businesses interact with people in societies, promoting cultural exchange, information sharing and thus influencing their ethics. With the general societal ethical codes, it would be impractical for any given business to influence the country towards unacceptable ethical standards, as the country has much more than any given business. Furthermore, the economic implications of business in the society mean that they always want positive outcomes for themselves and for their customers. This positive outcome cannot be achieved through unethical practices. It is thus deductible that with the available checks and balances, it would be impossible for corporate ethics to influence national ethics negatively. However, positive influences will definitely be available and businesses should be given both the rights and responsibilities to influence national ethics.
Manufacture and Distribution of Genetically Modified Foods
Section 1: Introduction
Genetically modified foods are foods that are manufactured through a genetic engineering process during which gene recombination is performed to create foods that have different genetic structured from the common natural foods. The main issue with genetically modified foods is that they are likely to cause various health issues to the consumers. Bawa and Anilakumar (2013), posit that main concerns surrounding GM foods are mainly centered on their impacts on environmental and human safety including ethics, intellectual property rights and labeling procedures among others. Accordingly, the effects of GM foods are an ethical issue worth exploring further. The manufacture and distribution of GM foods therefore becomes an ethical concern for consumers as well as various other stakeholders. The most common stakeholders in the concern around GM foods manufacture and distribution as a subject of business ethics are the manufacturers. Normally, the manufacture of GM foods provides the manufacturers with a dramatic way of addressing certain challenges of the 21st Century namely, manufacturing costs and technology, and the need for sustainable food resources. Methods that result in high yield of genetically modified crops are preferred by virtue of their potential for high and fast income generation. The manufacturers in this case, are the subjects or ethical violators, under whose influence, human health has been left. The second group of stakeholders comprises of the consumers of those foods, who are affected by the negative effects of such foods. A report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2016), showed an increasing prevalence of toxins in genetically modified crops due to changes in the individual plant compositions/ metabolites that results in toxicity beyond that in the normally occurring crops. The government is also included as part of the stakeholders in the manufacture of GM foods. The government provides authorization for manufacturers to continue with production of genetically modified foods and also plays an important part in policy development, monitoring and regulation of regulations surrounding the implementation of such policies.
Section 2: Rationale
When analyzing the manufacture and distribution of genetically modified foods from an ethical perspective, various considerations have to be made. Different perspectives to ethical evaluation have to be considered in ordere to make the decision as to whether an act is ethical or not. The utility perspective is the first to be considered in this case. The perspective holds that the right behavior is that which maximizes benefits while at the same time minimizes the pains associated with the outcomes of an action. The perspective is founded on the general business practice principle which is that businessmen and consumers alike would always intend to maximize the pleasures they gain while minimizing the costs. The consumers would like to gain as much product quality and quantity to satisfy their existing needs while at the same time minimizing the costs associated with those product qualities.
When evaluating the manufacture and distribution of GM foods from the utility perspective, it is obvious that all consumers would want to get a high quantity of foods and of good quality at lower costs. The manufacturers on the other hand, are ardent at maximizing their economic profits and minimizing their losses. The GM foods manufacturers have established a strategy through which they can get to sell higher volumes of foods and thus gain profitability through economies of scale, while at the same time incurring lower production costs. The consumers buy GM foods at lower costs and in higher quantities compared to the costs and quantities of organic or natural foods. Considering the first hand needs of the consumers therefore, it can be said that the GM food manufacturers create an environment of pleasure for everyone. The government gains in terms of maximum revenue too. However, the long term effects of the GM foods may have a toll on the health of the consumers, resulting in high healthcare related costs, which could not have been incurred with the natural foods. This cost is spilled to the government through medical insurance cover, and back to the manufacturer through increased taxation and reduced consumer productivity, which results in lower purchasing power, lower sales and lower profitability. However, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (2016) posit that there is still no clear research to indicate that tie specific GM foods to lifestyle diseases or to adverse health effects. This would mean that the speculation about high healthcare costs as a result of continuous consumption of GM foods is nullified, and that all the stakeholders enjoy pleasure from GM foods manufacturing. In this case therefore, the utility perspective would have considered GM foods manufacturing and distribution as an ethical act.
The second perspective of consideration is the justice perspective. The justice perspective to ethics holds that the right path is that which follows the law in place at a particular time. The laws and regulations at any particular time are considered as the guiding principles for the determination of where an act is right or wrong, and provision of proof beyond reasonable doubt that an act is wrong is required as the evidence to confirm that an act is unethical. Considering the case of the GM foods manufacturers, the businesses they run would be considered as right on condition that they are run under lawful considerations. The government’s approval is one of the indications of lawful operation. Furthermore, since there is no explicit evidence of potential negative effects of GM foods, it is challenging to prove the unlawfulness of the manufacture and distribution of GM foods. For this reason, the justice perspective would also be considered supportive of the manufacture and distribution of GM foods.
The rights perspective to justice is founded on the principle of the rights of all those involved in a phenomenon. The solution of choice in problem solving under the rights perspective is that which causes harm to the least number of people. The same principle path selection procedure as that used in the utility perspective can be used. However, instead of looking for the path with maximum benefits for the greatest number of people, the rights perspective works with the path that results in the least harm to those involved. This path is that of the manufacture of GM foods. This path results in the least harm since the negative impacts of GM foods are only presumed and where evidence is available of the existence of such negative health implications, the costs of healthcare is lower in magnitude to the cumulative costs that would be incurred without such foods. When the manufacture of such foods is considered unacceptable, everyone would be forced to purchase natural foods, some of which cannot be afforded by ordinary citizens. It is therefore deductible that the rights perspective also supports the manufacture of GM foods.
Comparing the three perspectives, it is clear that the utility perspective provides the optimum support for GM foods manufacturing. This is followed by the rights perspective. The justice perspective provides support only to a slight extent.
Section 3: Impacts
Considering the findings on the ethical perspectives regarding the manufacture of GM foods, it can be said that such foods improve affordability. The implications of these findings to many families across the world is that there will be greater access to foods, higher access to disposable funds for other expenses and generally lower living costs. These impacts are mostly direct. However, based on the speculations that some GM foods may result in various negative health impacts, it is also possible that manufacture of GM foods would result in escalating healthcare costs for families. The probable negative health impacts of GM foods manufacturing are however long-term and more indirect on families.
Section 4: Impacts
One of the ever growing needs of the contemporary societies is to grow more food and to feed larger populations. Through the use of biotechnology to attain GM foods, there has been increasing reduction of food scarcity across the world. Communities that would not have afforded natural foods get better access to foods, reducing the impacts of hunger across the world. Akumo, Riedel, and Semtanska (2012), report that genetically modified food products provide a solution to food scarcity, a position that is also mentioned by Maghari and Ardekani (2011). However, Maghari and Ardekani point out that besides solving food scarcity issues addressed by GM foods, there have contrary opinions that suggest that GM foods manufacturing result in new risks to food security. Additionally, there are various potential effects on human health and the environment including biodiversity loss, emergence of new super pests and super weeds that cannot be eradicated by conventional pest and disease control measures.
These mentioned effects show the probability of multidimensional impacts of GM foods on the community. On the one hand, increasing the food accessibility reduces the hunger implications across communities. Additionally, GM food production results in increased community and national revenue, which fosters further economic growth at the community and even national levels. According to Akumo et al. (2012), also mention the social impacts of GM food manufacturing, which include the ability to produce large quantities of commercially important products that can be used for both commercial and residential purposes. On the other hand, negative environmental and social implications of GM foods affect the societies, in which the foods are produced, reducing the productivity and the overall revenue outcomes.
Section 5: Impacts
The impacts of GM foods manufacturing trickles down from households to communities and lower to the country. These impacts can be either positive or negative depending on the probability of danger from genetically modified foods. The national impacts can be classified into economic, socio-cultural and environmental impacts. The environmental impacts at the community and by extension the national level can be multipronged namely, either through improvements in environmental management practices based on biotechnology or through declining environmental preservation due to biodiversity loss and introduction of new and tougher strains of weeds and pests. According to Maghari and Ardekani (2011), GM foods manufacturing can also increase revenue through subsistence production as well as through commercial production. GM food manufacturing uses various forms of biotechnology that promote productivity and subsequently initiate the availability of surplus foods. From initial country-confined food production, the bounty harvests associated with genetically modified foods have resulted in the expansion of export capabilities for food products, increasing the national revenue. Products that were previously imported have also been produced within the country, reducing the percentage of import foods while increasing the percentage of export foods.
Another dimension of national social structure that has been impacted by GM foods manufacturing is the capacity to engage in active CSR, providing support to other nations and to communities in which there is food scarcity. Areas in which desert climates are prevalent often need food subsidies and/or food imports. With a lot of surplus foods in other nations, those who are unable to engage in primary production of agricultural products can gain from imports of those products or their derivatives. Moreover, biotechnology can help such countries to come up with GM foods to help address their needs.
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