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Bachelor of Business Management and

Information Technology


Course: Business Ethics

Course Code: BM 108

Lecturer: Mr. L Kujinga

Due Date: 12 May 2014

Question: Discuss this case study in view of the arguments raised against and for
social responsibility

Genetically modified crops

In many western countries, including the UK, the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops is
limited and tightly controlled by government. A moratorium has been imposed by the UK
government on the commercial development of GM crops in the UK. The principal companies
concerned have accepted the need to monitor trials and develop a thorough body of evidence
before large scale commercial planting can be considered. Yet, at the same time, in Zimbabwe,
an area of approximately 150 square kilometers is to be developed for GM crop production,
funded by overseas aid from the UK government. In excess of USD 80 million was allocated to
this project by the UK government.

Monsanto, the principal company involved in the controlled trials in the UK and also operating
in Zimbabwe, is amongst the companies being invited to participate in the development of GM
crops in Zimbabwe. The concerns amongst farmers in Zimbabwe are that this development will
result in the mass migration of millions of small scale farmers and laborers, to cities in search of
work. In addition small scale farmers are concerned that the quality of their products is inferior
to the cheaper GM crops. The Zimbabwe project known as Vision 2020 was the result of a study
undertaken by a large American Consulting Firm, which, critics argue, gave little, if any,
consideration to alternative forms of raising agricultural efficiency that utilizes local resources
more effectively and sensitively. Local farmers in Zimbabwe wish to control their own destinies.
Definition of terms

Social responsibility- (, states that

social responsibility is the idea that companies should embrace their societal responsibilities and
not be solely focused on maximizing profits. Social responsibility entails developing businesses
with a positive relationship to the society which they operate in.

Genetically modified – The World Health Organization site states that genetically modified
foods are foods derived from organisms whose genetic material ( DNA) has been modified in a
way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different

Monsanto is an agricultural company who deals in plant biotechnology, agricultural and

vegetable seeds and crop protection chemicals. Their headquarters are in the United States and
they have seven branches in Africa.

Global land grabbers of huge tracts of African soil include the likes of the US, the British and
European countries; they do not carry Africa or anyone’s interest at heart, except their own.
These countries come under the guise of ‘raising agricultural efficiency’ for poor nations to help
feed the starving and ‘boost productivity’. In actual fact such foreign land grabs cause imminent
poverty and starvation of the masses, especially the small scale farmers. In most of the European
countries, as the case study clearly states, genetically modified crops are limited and tightly
controlled by the government and a lot of controlled trials are developed before large scale
production can be considered. Surprisingly these European countries are allowed to
commercially develop GMO’s for the African populace without any monitoring or whatsoever.

An article by France Maphosa of the Department of Sociology, University of Zimbabwe (1997),

states that business organizations have an obligation to act for the social good. Under this social
contract, business should not exist just to make profits but it has an obligation to have a proactive
role in finding solutions to society's many problems and to engage in activities aimed at
improving society's welfare, even if in so doing it reduces its economic profits (Drucker, 1955,
376; Frederick, 1983,145).This shows that organizations’ corporate social responsibilities are
aimed at finding solutions for the society’s problems and improving the society’s wellbeing, not
to be the cause of misery to the society as is the case of Monsanto.
Organizations need to make profit at the end of the day.Realising maximization of profits when
you are a GMO crop company like Monsanto based in the UK , where production of such crops
is tightly controlled by the government, would be a very hard task. In the view of an article on
Corporate Social Responsibility (Baker, M. Posted 26 Aug 2010 at
/csr/page.php?Story_ID=2628), one makes profits by providing goods and services that
customers want and prefer, with the agreement of society. The best CEOs describe this task in
terms of getting the right people and looking after them, finding the best products that meet
customer needs in new ways and doing so in a way that governments, their employees and
customers feel good about in terms of the impact on society. I am of the opinion that the
government and Monsanto’s project had a negative impact on the society in that there were
concerns by local farmers about the outcomes of the Vision 2020 project.

Another article on a discussion panel at (

western-sanctions-really-hurt-zimbabwes-economy/ ) posted by Murairwa, states that the UN
body, the ‘Food and Agricultural Organization’ (FAO) published a report on December 2009
and the researcher, Thembi Mutch from Dar es Salaam, documented in the London based news
magazine, New Africa ,that the British firm, Silver street Capital, boasts about its ability to buy
up African farms and ‘boost productivity’ by, among other things, abandoning ‘till’ farming —
i.e., farming by hand. Smallholding local farmers and farm laborers are the ones who feel the
most heat as they are going to lose their jobs and the market for their products. The article also
states that land acquisition is attracting new players, for example, the Rockefeller/Gates
Foundation/USAID partnership is working with Monsanto and US$150 million will be invested
by them into an ‘Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’ (AGRA) project, Mutch explains.
Monsanto has been a very controversial figure in the agricultural industry as some of their
products are very toxic and their crops are said to be cancerous. Their business practices have
also been put under the spotlight by some farmer organizations.

According to the site New Zimbabwe Forums, the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture once rejected
Monsanto’s offer of Roundup Ready GMO seeds but a Monsanto representative assured the
Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not GMO.Elizabeth Vancil, Monsanto’s
Director of Development Initiatives, called the news that the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture
approved the donation of “a fabulous Easter gift” in an April email. Monsanto is known for
aggressively pushing seeds, especially GMO seeds, in both the global North and South, including
through highly restrictive technology agreements with farmers who are not always made fully
aware of what they are signing. According to interviews by the writer at the above website, with
representatives of Mexican small farmer organizations, they then find themselves forced to buy
Monsanto seeds each year, under conditions they find burdensome and at costs they sometimes
cannot afford. An article on the Zimeye website titled (GMO Hokoyo Basopo the New Poison
for Sale) states that GMO products for example are patented and owned by a corporation,
meaning a farmer will have to continually renew his batch every planting season unlike farming
organically/naturally on their own. Changing your seeds from non organic to organic is not easy
and furthermore the GMO companies keep close tabs on their proprietary rights. This goes to
show that the company lacks social responsibility as they force themselves on poor farmers and
keep them on leash through their scrupulous business contracts.

The New Zimbabwe Forum article also states that as of 2007, Monsanto had filed 112 lawsuits
against U.S. farmers for alleged technology contract violations or GMO patents, involving 372
farmers and 49 small agricultural businesses in 27 different states. From these, Monsanto has
won more than $21.5 million in judgments. The multinational appears to investigate 500 farmers
a year, in estimates based on Monsanto’s own documents and media reports. By these acts the
organization has shown that it lacks social responsibility and should only stick to their economic
skills. Monsanto’s former motto, “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible,” has been
replaced by “Imagine.” Its web site home page claims it “help[s] farmers around the world
produce more while conserving more. We help farmers grow yield sustainably so they can be
successful, produce healthier foods… while also reducing agriculture's impact on our
environment.” The corporations’ record does not support the claims.

One of the advantages of being socially responsible is that the image of the organization is
improved in that socially responsible companies are considered beneficial to a society. In the
view of (http:// and- against-social-responsibility.html)
firms seek to enhance their public image to gain more customers, better employees, access to
money markets, and other benefits. Since the public considers social goals to be important,
business can create a favorable public image by pursuing social goals. In the case of Monsanto
their image is not one to be proud of as their name has been dragged through the mud as they
have been linked with products that are not environmentally friendly. The New Zimbabwe
Forums website states that the Via Campesina coalition launched a global campaign against
Monsanto on International World Food Day, with protests, land occupations, and hunger strikes
in more than twenty countries. They carried out a second global day of action against Monsanto
on April 17 of this year (2010), in honor of Earth Day. Non-governmental organizations in the
U.S. are challenging Monsanto’s practices, too. The Organic Consumers Association has
spearheaded the campaign “Millions Against Monsanto,” calling on the company to stop
intimidating small family farmers, stop marketing untested and unlabeled genetically engineered
foods to consumers, and stop using billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers' money to subsidize
GMO crops.
The people usually respond in a negative manner to cases such as the Monsanto case. This can be
seen in the Haitian case where farmers ended up burning the Monsanto donated seeds citing that
the hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO,
and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram, a highly toxic class of chemicals called
ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused
concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special
review. The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers
that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. Pesticides containing thiram
must contain a special warning label, the EPA ruled. The EPA also barred marketing of the
chemicals for many home garden products, because it assumes that most gardeners do not have
adequately protective clothing. Monsanto’s passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture
officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or
training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds

In another case Russia at once banned GM maize after a controversial study of the Monsanto
corn seeds, which were discovered to be cancerous. The food navigator website last updated on
26 September 2012 claims that the study on rats fed with Monsanto’s NK306 over a two year
period were at significantly higher risk of developing cancers and experiencing early death as
compared to a control group fed non-GM corn. Yet the same company is allowed to produce
freely in the Zimbabwean market regardless of all the above mentioned irregularities the
company has. African governments in search easy solutions to their problems end up seeking
help in the wrong people. The governments will have the people in mind, wanting to help
empower them; not realizing that in the process the society sometimes ends up worse off.

In the case of Monsanto being allowed to commercially develop GMO’s in Zimbabwe, the
government failed to conduct a thorough research on the company. The company continues to
show lack of accountability for their actions and continues to use the third world countries as
guinea pigs in their experiments and to milk them dry. The Monsanto organization shows little
concern for, neither the human race nor the environment they operate in and they continue
fleecing the small scale farmers and leaving many others jobless. The question of social
responsibility at the Monsanto organization continues to raise some eyebrows as they fail to
consider alternative forms of raising agricultural efficiency and utilize local resources more
effectively and sensitively for the benefit of the society.

An article by France Maphosa of the Department of Sociology,

University of Zimbabwe (1997)

Extracted from



http:// and- against-social-responsibility.html

New Zimbabwe Forum article

Extracted from



study? utm_source=copyright&utm_medium=onsite&utm_campaign=copyright

Article on Corporate Social Responsibility

Author; Baker, M. Posted 26 Aug 2010

at /csr/page.php?Story_ID=2628

Article by Maphosa F. (Corporate Social Responsibility in Zimbabwe:

A content analysis of mission statements and annual reports)

Available at

20of%20the%20University %20of%20Zimbabwe/vol24n2/juz024002006.pdf

World Health Organization site,

Available at

Zimeye website, extracted from