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FleurDeLis
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PostSubject: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:02 am

This is just a superficial scrape at Monsanto's business ethics on a national level; it goes much deeper, especially if you consider international ramifications ....

Monsanto: Good or Bad?

Monsanto is a Fortune 500 company that provides farmers around the world with genetically modified, herbicide and pesticide resistant, crop seeds. In addition, Monsanto markets biotech fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides particularly engineered for their seeds to sustain better crop yields. The company claims to promote the technological advancement of agriculture in an effort to feed the growing world population, to achieve sustainable agriculture, and to preserve the environment (Monsanto, 2002). Despite the noble causes, Monsanto continues to generate questionable publicity for its operations nationally as well as internationally and has been listed as the world’s least ethical corporation in a Swiss study (Cesca, 2010).

Monsanto Chemical Corporation provided a variety of chemical and bio-tech innovations throughout the 20th century, including Agent Orange and the growth hormone rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), which are now known for their adverse environmental impacts (Hartley, 2008). Monsanto Chemical Corporation split business activities into two separate businesses in the late 1990’s; Pharmicia Corporation continued to focus on broad chemicals whereas Monsanto retained agricultural applications. Although separate today, the businesses share a history and continue to work together through an exchange of knowledge and services. Experts conclude that the splice of business activities related to the bad image of chemical applications such as Agent Orange or PCB (poly-chlorinated biphenyls) that showed an adverse environmental impact after usage and hindered the profitable emergence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) from Monsanto.

Discrimination lawsuits may have contributed to the splice of business activities as well. Monsanto Chemical Company came under crossfire by the Department of Labor in 1971 due to a significant lack of racial minorities and females among their workforce (Chima & Wharton). The company changed course to comply with affirmative action laws and put forth a notable effort to change hiring patterns that were advantageous to white males. The company first tripled the African American work force and hired minorities into lower and middle management position; later, the focus shifted to promoting minorities to upper level management positions. Nevertheless, Monsanto Chemical Company found itself entangled in a discrimination lawsuit in the 1990’s that concerned discrimination based on age. The company changes that occurred in the late 20th century included a variety of mergers and small company acquisitions. The acquisition of Ortho led to a 25 percent reduction of Ortho’s work force; 43 of the employees who were let go in the process filed a suit based on age discrimination in 1994 (EEOC, 1996). Although Monsanto rejected any accusation of wrongdoing, the plaintiffs reached a settlement in 1996 that included a compensation of $18,250,000.

Monsanto prides itself with a diverse workforce today and encourages diversity throughout the company that includes people with disabilities. The company recognizes that it is crucial to provide equal access to employment opportunities in order to find the best employees for open positions. To support their quest for the best employees, Monsanto supports external funds, such as the United Negro College Fund or the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (Monsanto, 2002). Furthermore, Monsanto provides company-sponsored diversity networks for minority and disabled workers to provide a company wide communication platform that aims to address and solve differences among the work force. Monsanto has gained attractiveness as a workplace through their efforts to promote diversity and the provision of competitive wages that include flexible benefit packages (in the U.S.) and generous vacation times.

Philanthropic programs employed by the Monsanto Fund aim primarily at supporting the GMO business model. Monsanto Fund sponsors a variety of educational programs for farmers as well as students to promote science and biotechnology throughout the world in an effort to support the use of GMOs, applicable fertilizers, and pesticides. Programs to support water conservation (Monsanto Fund), for instance, are geared towards GMOs, rather than broadly applicable. The use of GMOs, however, has been heavily criticized; several European nations have already banned Monsanto’s seeds (BBC News, 2009) due to their environmental impact and Monsanto’s growing monopoly position as a seed supplier. The U.S. is following the European lead now and investigates the seeds for adverse environmental as well as health impacts; in addition, the U.S. Justice Department has engaged in investigations to determine a possible breach of antitrust laws (Whoriskey, 2009).

Whether or not the gene-modified seeds will impact human health is still undetermined; although scientist predict long-term ramifications, nothing is proven beyond doubt yet. Monsanto bans in Europe are primarily based on precautionary principles rather than factual evidence. Similar to Agent Orange, PCBs, and rBGHs, side effects of GMOs may not be obvious immediately and will take decades to manifest. The modified seeds are resistant to strong herb and pesticides sold by Monsanto; the applied chemicals aim to protect the crops from pest or weed infestations, thus they maximize the crop yield. However, research has shown that the use of strong chemical herb and pesticides leads to so called “super” weeds or pests; organism that are resistant to nearly any available treatment, posing a threat to any crop and to the environment as a whole (Gillam, 2009). Monsanto advocates the safety of their seeds and accuses environmental concerns of lacking merit.

Monsanto has been fined in 2010 for misbranding violations that concerned pesticide resistant cotton product seeds. The pesticide resistant products are banned from distribution in ten Texan counties to prevent the emergence of resistant pests. Monsanto failed to label the product as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and distributed the seeds to Texan farmers between 2002 and 2007. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fined Monsanto upon completion of the investigation in 2010 with a $2.5 Million penalty; $2.5 Million is the highest penalty that has been imposed under FIFRA thus far (EPA, 2010).

Farmers around the world initially welcomed the resistant seeds that provided maximized crop yields and sustained their agricultural operations. Nevertheless, vigilance towards Monsanto’s practices has been growing. In 1999, The National Farm Corporation tried to sue Monsanto for price-fixing and the formation of a cartel to monopolize the market (Borger, 2004); the charges were dropped at the time but as mentioned above, the U.S. Justice Department has recently begun to investigate anew. The seeds are pricy and farmers find themselves dependant on Monsanto’s products once they decide to grow GMOs. Since the gene-modified seeds are patented, farmers are forbidden from planting harvested seeds; failure to comply with the contractual stipulations can result in a $3 Million penalty (CBS News, 2011).

Monsanto’s impact is not limited to farmers who actively engage in business with the company. Monsanto has affected farmers who grow regular crops and seed cleaners that help farmers obtain the seeds of their crops. Under the premise of patent protection for their seeds, Monsanto has invaded farmlands to find evidence of illegal distribution of their seeds. Even though cross contamination occurs naturally through wind or migrating animals, Monsanto has sued several farmers for patent infringement. Notable is the case of the Runyons family in Indiana who has been accused of illegally obtaining and planting Monsanto’s seeds. In a 2005 letter to the Runyons, the company claimed to have permission from the Indiana Department of Agriculture to enter and inspect the farm premises for possible seed contamination (CBS News, 2011). The Indiana Department of Agriculture did not exist until two month after the letter had been sent, however. While Monsanto claims to protect their patent to sustain the technology for farmers in the future, it seems Monsanto is primarily concerned with the protection of their profits from the patented seeds that keep farmers dependent and sustain business profitability.

Monsanto claims to provide sustainable agriculture and a consistent food supply for the population while it protects the environment. The sustainable agriculture and food supply entails a high price sticker and costly stipulations for the farmers if they do not comply with contractual obligations; whether or not farmers fail to comply knowingly or unknowingly is of little concern to the company. Meanwhile, Monsanto chooses to comply with the laws that have been derived from ethical notions once they are found guilty of a breach. Monsanto cherishes a diverse workforce today but violated discrimination laws in the past. Likewise, Monsanto knowingly distributed falsely labeled products to areas in Texas that had been banned from the product’s distribution. In addition, environmental concerns are ignored or found to lack merit despite growing concern among scientist that led European nations to ban the products from their markets. Monsanto markets noble causes; their main objective is profit maximization, however.


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PostSubject: Re: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:36 pm

In retrospect, super weeds reinforce the purchase of Monsanto's genetically modified seeds, which is in Monsanto's best interest profit-wise.

Anyhow, Monsanto isn't protecting the environment, it is modifying it. The environmental damage Monsanto has caused is essentially permanent. Realistically, the only way to possibly stop it is to overturn the law that allows life to be patented. Unfortunately, overturning that law is too late.

Genetic modification is the real reason why I think the Seed Vault (link) was created. Think about it...if Monsanto's genetically modified seeds become so wide spread globally and later is declared to be harmful to humans and animals, everyone that is a partial owner of the vault (stakeholders) would make mega bucks due to having an instant monopoly of non-toxic seeds. They could use the seeds to grow non-toxic crops in special greenhouses or laboratories to prevent pollination from toxic crops, and mass produce non-toxic seeds. Farmers would have to buy the non-toxic seeds, grow them, then buy more because their fields are out in the open and would be cross-pollinated with toxic seeds. In a way, the investors of the Seed Vault would have patented non-genetically modified seeds. Naturally, the costs of seeds will go through the roof, resulting in the cost of food going through the roof too. The cost of non-toxic seeds could be justified by the special safety precautions taken to prevent cross-pollination and might come in the form of a tax. On top of that, what countries would be able to afford the seeds? Primarily the rich countries.

The scope of this goes onto a whole new level to where we are talking a monopoly, population control, controlling the food supply, possibly Eugenics etc.. The genetically modified seeds Monsanto sells will probably be declared toxic after almost every country on the planet has been contaminated, which would be within the next twenty years.

Why else would Monsanto and the ultra rich invest in the Seed Vault?

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PostSubject: Re: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:59 pm

Indeed, the monopoly takes on a whole new level ... and it already began; Monsanto credits itself for the second phase of the green revolution. While phase one provided education to support self-reliance, phase two supports corporate dependency.

I have to look into the Seed Vault, I really know nothing about it.

Monsanto's care for the environment is "justified" as follows: Monsanto supposedly preserves untouched land because agriculture is more efficient with GMO seeds, thus curbing new land conversion. Cute eh? Let's fuck up the whole environment; it's all good cause we preserve land elsewhere ... if only nature would know man made borders.
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PostSubject: Re: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:07 pm

I dont know much about Monsato. But the world just keeps on getting worse and worse doesnt it.
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PostSubject: Re: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:13 pm

Idle Thoughts wrote:
I dont know much about Monsato. But the world just keeps on getting worse and worse doesnt it.

I wouldn't say worse and worse because it is what it is. I would say more...interesting.

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PostSubject: Re: Monsanto ...    Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:25 pm

Well I may have used that terminology if I wasnt feeling so screwed up
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