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Monsanto Company, the multinational agricultural biotechnology establishment, has assumed international relevance as a leading supplier of genetically modified seed and associated products.
However, over the years the company has found itself on the hot seat in regards to the safety of some of its products (ANH Feature, 2012).
For instance, Monsanto released a hormone which was said to increase milk production by up to 16 percent, when injected to cows (Bijman, 1996).
The product, known as recombinant bovine somatotrophine, was received with a lot of opposition from farmers not affiliated to Monsanto, claiming that the milk produced by injected cows was not safe to use (Bijman, 1996).
This led to some processors indicating that their milk was sourced from cows that were free of the synthetic hormones. This essay seeks to analyze the ethical dilemma that Monsanto faces in regards to the reception of its products.
Reasons pro-genetic modification
Genetic modification, particularly in the agricultural field, which Monsanto is involved in, has a number of benefits. First, it has been time-proven that genetic modification helps increase the farm yields (Morgan, 2003).
The quality of produce grown from genetically engineered seeds is also of a better quality than that from regular seeds.
Secondly, genetic modification has seen the development of crops that can tolerate harsh climatic conditions and parasitic infestation (Morgan, 2003).
This has seen some regions bid farewell to famine and starvation on account of great harvests made.
Reasons against genetic modification
Genetic modification, can lead to adverse conditions on the consumers of its products. For instance the herbicide Roundup, a product of Monsanto, has recently been in the news for its linkage with cancer (Ng, 2012).
For example, French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini recently released the findings of his study, indicating that rats fed with genetically modified corn and/or water containing the Roundup, had a high propensity to cancer development (Newman, 2012).
Such threats, if not well addressed could lead to more people suffering harm from the products, effectively wiping out the positive elements of such modification.
Solving the ethical dilemma
Using Emmanuel Kant’s duty-based (Deontological ethics), I would vote to allow Monsanto continue with their practice. This is because in its foundation, the company aimed at increasing food production and not propagating illnesses (Arendt, 2006).
Allowing Monsanto continue production would in this instance be the right thing to do even though a small section of the people who use their products may be adversely affected.
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Following the first categorical imperative, which insists on universal law formulation, allowing Monsanto continue production should apply for any other institution, whose intention is the same as Monsanto’s (Ellington, 1993).
The second categorical imperative also applies in this particular case by indicating that any decision made should be regarded as an end in itself and not merely a means to an end (Hadley, 1986).
As such, Monsanto should be allowed to continue production, because in this way they immediately help put an end to world hunger.
Finally, in relation to the third categorical imperative, the kingdom of ends formulation, allowing Monsanto continue production should be received as a way to help in the development of laws to govern the operation of establishments in the field of genetic modification as well as help solve issues immediately.
This essay has analyzed the ethical issues surrounding Monsanto’s operation. In this regard, the discussion first provided the reasons for genetic engineering, as well as those against the technology, before delving into the ethical issues. It has been concluded that supporting Monsanto would be the most ideal decision in this case.
ANH Feature: French Study indicates Monsanto Maize and Roundup cause cancer. (2012). Web.
Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. London: Penguin Classics.
Bijman, J. (1996), “Recombinant Bovine Somatotropin in Europe and the USA.” Biotechnology and Development Monitor, No. 27 (1), 2-5.
Ellington, J. (1993). Grounding for the metaphysics of morals. Indiana: Hackett.
Hadley, A. (1986). First Things: An inquiry into the first principles of morals and justice. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Morgan, S. (2003). Superfoods: Genetic Modification of Foods (Science at the Edge). United Kingdom: Heinemann.
Newman, A. (2012). Russia bans GMO corn over Cancer fears as pressure builds on Monsanto. Web.
Ng, A. (2012). Genetically modified corn and cancer – what does the evidence really say? Web.