Monday, May 12, 2014

Monsanto: Soybean Research (2014)

Monsanto Company logo
Monsanto is a publicly traded American multinational chemical and agricultural biology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and of the herbicides, which it markets under the Roundup brand. Monsanto dominates the market, in fact people have called them Microsoft without competition. Monsanto's most recent second quarter net income has declined by nearly 19%, however that means that their net income went from a massive 1 billion to 887 million.
Experts have criticized Monsanto's ethics for years. The Swiss research outfit Covalence ranked 581 corporations based on their ethics. Monsanto ranked dead last, 581 out of 581.
Monopolistic business practices and the news that genetically modified seeds may cause organ failure has led to Monsanto to be last on the list. However this hasn't stopped them from reevaluating. Monsanto is now working on developing a highly questionable soybean.
Last week, Monsanto scientists began working on an enhanced soybean that can actually help you loose weight. Naturally (or unnaturally in this case), Monsanto is supporting the research and will surely have first dibs on the patent.
Basically, soy that contains high amounts of an enzyme called beta-conglycinin might actually block the absorption of certain fat-inducing proteins by the digestive system. They've also discovered additional proteins beyond beta-conglycinin that might accomplish the same thing.
The scientist working on the gut-busting soy technology told Science Daily, "The peptides fight inflammation by blocking key enzymes in the body's immune response." They're developing a soybean that undermines the natural human digestive process. As you can assume there are multiple problems that may arise moving forward. Many food-bourne illness specialists think that the enzyme won't be digestible at all by the human system. As the soy runs through your body it will flush out all of your nutrients. People will be very skinny and very sick.

Hugh Grant, CEO of Monsanto Co.
According to Individualism (Friedman's Economic Theory), Friedman says, "The only goal of business is profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders." With that being said it would be ethical for Monsanto to continue developing the soybeans. The new soybean can lead massive revenues and increased net income making the investors and the stockholders satisfied. Monsanto has 163,233 outstanding stocks. If Monsanto did not develop the soybeans, Individualism would say that the company is stealing the stockholders money. 

The Utilitarian ethical theory states that decisions should be made based on maximizing the number of happy people and having the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain. Happiness is the only thing of intrinsic value in the minds of Utilitarian’s. The stakeholders affected in this case are all Monsanto employees, and potential buyers of Monsanto's soybean products. According to Utilitarianism, Monsanto's developments of the soybeans are unethical. The cons seem to outweigh the pros. If the food born illness specialists are correct with their predictions than there will be lots of sick people. When people are sick from malnutrition they will not be happy. The soybean may even kill a number of people because it has been proven that some strains of genetically engineered seeds can cause organ failure. If people die than there will be more unhappiness because numbers of people will have to feel grief over the loss of their loved ones. The stakeholders won't loose any money because the soybeans are still in the developmental stage. None of the soy products have been available for sale yet. Monsanto is failing to understand that the soybean being created will not maximize happiness in themselves or their customers and the results can be very detrimental.

People protesting against Monsanto's genetically modifies seeds

Kantianism, developed by Immanuel Kant, encourages people to act rationally and to not act inconsistently with their actions while also helping others make rational choices and respecting an individual’s needs and differences. Kant also believes that motivation should come from good will, or seeking what is right because it is right. Monsanto would not be considered ethical under Kant's theory. By selling these dangerous soybean products the company is seeing their consumers as a means to an end. They are not taking into consideration what their product can do to the human body. The sensible decision would be for Monsanto to find an alternative soybean product that is healthy and provides nutrients to the body and does not simply flush them out. It is important though, that they do it for the right reasons. If they told people of the dangers only to avoid future lawsuits then they would still be acting unethically.

Virtue Theory
Lastly, the virtue theory asserts that businesses have certain virtues, or characteristics, that make them ethical. These include courage, honesty, trust, and justice. Assuming Monsanto continues their progression with their research they are not acting with courage. Knowingly putting out products that are going to make people sick is not courageous. They should take the time to assure that the product will not be detrimental to people’s health in any ways. And if they cannot create a product that does that then they should not release the product for consumption, regardless whether or not they can make money off of it or not. Monsanto is not acting with honesty. If Monsanto had honesty they would post all of their findings on whether or not the soybean is safe for consumption. They would publish their progress in developing their products and not try and conceal the truth to make money. Monsanto is not acting with trust either. They are planning on expiating consumers of this product because they are unaware on health dangers and blinded by their desire to loose weight. The fact that Monsanto is cashing in on that is highly unethical. Lastly, Monsanto is not acting with justice because distributing products that have the potential to make some sick and kill others is very dangerous.

After looking at the four central ethical theories, we can conclude that if Monsanto releases their soy they will not be acting ethically. It is scary to think that people can be so selfish and greedy as to knowingly distribute products that may hurt us. I almost guarantee that if Monsanto releases this product, people will try it as a weight loss technique. I guess the old saying still applies, it's better to look good than to feel good.

Work Cited

Cesca, Bob. "Monsanto Leads in Genetically Modified Agriculture, Trails in Ethics." Daily Finance. N.p., 9 Apr. 2010. Web. 12 May 2014.<>.