Q1. Does Monsanto maintain an ethical culture than can effectively respond to various stakeholders? I believe Monsanto makes an effort to have an ethical culture and for the most part they succeed. The bribery issues in Indonesia, within their own company, in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s were reported to the Department of Justice by Monsanto. This level of corporate governance is something I think many large corporations would not do. The farmers, who are primary stakeholders because they buy seed from Monsanto get a lot of attention from Monsanto. The development of new seed allows farmers to grow more crops per acre with less chance of crop loss due to weeds, disease or insect damage. They effectively responded to consumers by shifting focus of genetically modified corn to corn that is not directly eaten by consumers, but put to use in other ways (feed corn, ethanol, corn syrup, etc) Q2. Compare the benefits of growing GM seeds with the potential negative consequences of using them.
In a time where it is very popular to eat organic, with more and more organic choices than ever, the issue of GM food is an interesting one. For those of us who live in a relatively stable economic environment, the need for GM food seems a little wrong. But the facts are that the world population is growing and since about 1999, the world wide farmland acreage has decreased every year, something had never happened before and shows no sign of turning around.
BASF reports the following concerning population and available farmland: Furthermore, the world population is continuing to grow at a rapid rate. It rose from 3.0 billion in 1960 to 6.5 billion in 2005 – and by 2030 there will be approximately 8.3 billion people living on our planet. Supplying these people with food constitutes a growing challenge. To make things even more difficult, whilst the need for food is increasing, the amount of available farmland per capita is continually shrinking. In 2005, there was still 2,200m² (2,630 square yards) of farmland available to supply the needs of one human being. By 2030 there will only be 1,800m² (2,150 square yards).
All this adds up the need to produce more food on less acreage and hence the need for either GM food or other methods to achieve the same results. Until now, it appears GM foods are the best method to achieve this.
Of course this does not come without a price. The basis of GM food now is the ability to spray non-selective herbicides that will not affect the GM plants. This added pesticide input worries people because of the risk of unwanted environmental exposure to end users of the food, weed resistance and collateral damage beneficial organisms.
Q3. How should Monsanto manage the potential harm to plant and animal life from using products such as Roundup?
Of course continued research and education to improve methods in how farmers use GM seeds/Roundup. Planting non GM seeds with GM seeds helps slow or stop insects from becoming resistant. Education in crop rotation with non GM crops can be done as well. Since this is a worldwide problem, Monsanto has to work internationally and perhaps even harder in countries where farmers are less informed and more likely to misuse pesticides or not fully understand the benefits of crop rotation.
Q1. What aspects of BP’s ethical culture could have contributed to the Gulf Coast oil spill disaster?
The past behavior, specifically concerning the 2005 explosion in Texas and the Alaskan Pipeline leaks in 2006 show a general disregard for safety and the ability or desire to quickly respond to maintenance issues that had the ability to prevent these disasters. Corporate policies and managements focus of safety did not appear to be at the top of the corporate culture.
Q2. Did BP engage in purposeful avoidance of risk management? Why or why not?
It appears that BP avoided both mandated and voluntary practices in dealing with risk management practices. The lesser of the violation would be the voluntary violations like not having a remote shut-off to close a well off in the event of a catastrophic disaster. The mandated boundaries that were broken are the most disturbing. In the Texas case, BP admitted to several
procedure failures and in the Alaskan Pipeline case, there were simple recommended preventative procedures that would have prevented the accident. In the Deepwater case, there are accusations made by a employee of the rig company to serious violations.
Q3. What should BP do in the future to rebuild its reputation and manage the risks associated with offshore drilling activities?
Rebuilding BP’s reputation is a multi level process. Investing in cleaner fuels helps position them as a “green” company, something that is looked upon positively by consumers. Making sure they respond more than ethically to the long term cleanup effort and to accurately compensating, to the best of their ability, the people who were affected economically from the Gulf spill. Equally important is that BP must make changes to its corporate culture and make safety and integrity a priority above nothing else. The use of remote shut off switches, inspections with more accountability and a greater sense of urgency when violations are found. Use of any technology that would help prevent or detect a potential problem should be used. Not having another spill, explosion or bribery scandal is the best way to repair their image.
Q1. Comment on ethical problems raised for each case based upon what you have learned thus far in the course.
Social responsibility was a discipline that was not practiced well by BP. The potential and subsequent reality for negative impact was great.
The responsibility to primary and secondary stakeholders is also clear with both companies. BP took little to care about secondary stakeholders, those being people who live on shores surrounding deep shore drilling.
For Monsanto, the “old Monsanto” had serious flaws in its corporate governance and citizenship by dumping chemicals they knew were dangerous in a landfill in Alabama. You can add shortcomings in honesty and integrity to that list as well.
BP suffered from ethical issues of bribery and had a series of lapses that caused serious environmental issues.
Both “old Monsanto” and more current BP had core value issues and did not practice voluntary or mandated boundaries well. (Monsanto Chemical and BP’s Texas, Alaska and Gulf activities)
Both companies practice philanthropy through donations. They also practice sustainability (BP through investing in sustainable fuels and Monsanto through sustainable farming)
“New Monsanto” has been accused by some farmers of abusive and intimidating behavior with their investigation into farmers seed saving practices, which are not legal with patent protected plants.
Q2. How can Monsanto and BP improve their companies in the area of business ethics?
It all has to start from the top with a strong focus on corporate governance policies that exceed mandated standards. These policies have to be reviewed and monitored. Accountability measures must be in place and followed through with if the policies are broken. The corporate culture must be one of the highest standard.
Q3. What is the current status to both companies for 2013? Newsworthy ethical issues?
Both companies are giants and aren’t going anywhere. They have the resources to withstand hits even as big as the Deepwater well disaster. Monsanto continues to fight GM food battles. It seems that GM plants have spread to other fields. They are being sued by farmers who claim their fields have been contaminated with GM plants. Also, Roundup resistant weeds have developed and farmers are forced to go back to tilling, which causes erosion and using pesticides, which they had gone away from because of the GM plants. http://rt.com/usa/gmo-corn-fails-against-pests-863/
BP continues to flip the bill for the Gulf cleanup and the costs are higher than they expected. Compensation to those hurt and the long term cleanup of the Gulf will continue. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/12/business/energy-environment/bp-appealing-settlement-on-gulf-disaster-payments.html?pagewanted=all