The use of genetically modified products has become widely spread in the present day food industry (Gerasimova 531). The most alarming issue connected with it is the fact that many potential consumers of these products are totally unaware of their side effects. Besides, a lot of companies conceal the presence of genetically modified components in their products (Miller 13). Thus, the consumer is forced to eat GMO without giving his/her consent to this. This creates a serious ethical dilemma.
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The case at hand concerns Green Acres Inc., which is one of the largest multinational producers of canned fruit and vegetables, known for the use of organic suppliers of their products. Recently, the company has made a decision to use GMO and sell such goods at a lower price. However, customers continue to believe that Green Acres uses only natural materials. Thus, the ethical issue in this case is the dilemma whether the producer should inform consumers of GMO and put its reputation and profit at stake or it should continue making money on people’s misperception (taking into account that no cheating has ever taken place as the company has never claimed to use only organic products).
There are three main parties involved in the case:
- Green Acres that has to choose the course of further action that would allow preserving both reputation and turnover;
- potential consumers, who are deluded about the use of organic products by Green Acres;
- the company’s competitors in the industry that can benefit from revealing this secret to the general public.
The possible negative financial consequences for the company are evident as well as benefits that can be derived from the situation by its competitors. The most complex issue is possible health impacts for those who continue buying these products without knowing that they contain GMO. With the introduction of GMO in 1996 a number of health problems in the USA has increased dramatically (Shiva 270).
A lot of people were diagnosed with chronic diseases, cancer of various types, food allergies, digestive distortions, problems with reproduction, and even such mental disorders as autism. Children run the risk of abnormal physical and psychological development (Bawa and Anilakumar 1037).
If I were an employee of Green Acres I would face the same dilemma, whether I should or should not made public that the company uses GMO. The problem is that if I did, I could lose my job, which would be undesirable for me. On the other hand, concealing the information would threaten other people’s health and even life. I suppose that I would discuss this with the CEO in order to understand what course of action the company is determined to take.
If they continued deluding people, I would probable opt for revealing their secret as human lives are more important than staying loyal to the company. As the CEO, I could either fire all those who disagree with the policy or try to reach a compromise with them. I think I would discuss the issue with the employees and inform them about the solution the company is going to implement.
Green Acres should find the best way out in order to preserve their regular customer base. For example, they can launch a commercial or release an article that would clarify that, since the harmful effects of GMO are neither proved nor disproved, the company now offers both organic and genetically modified products for their consumers to have a freedom of choice in terms of quality and price. That would be both fair and beneficial for the reputation. This is possibly the most ethical course of action as it provides all the necessary information to customers and allows them to decide what to opt for.
Bawa, A. S. and K. R. Anilakumar. “Genetically Modified Foods: Safety, Risks and Public Concerns – a Review.” Journal of Food, Science and Technology 50.6 (2013): 1035-1046. Print.
Miller, Norman, ed. Environmental Politics Casebook: Genetically Modified Foods. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2016. Print.
Gerasimova, Ksenia. “Debates on Genetically Modified Crops in the Context of Sustainable Development.” Science and Engineering Ethics 22.2 (2016): 525-547. Print.
Shiva, Vandana. “Biofortification, Genetic Engineering and Corporate Interests: False solutions to malnutrition.” Development 57.2, 2014): 268-273. Print.