Case Study of Calgene Inc.

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California based genetic foods producer Calgene Inc. has been chosen as the subject for the case analysis. The company, which is now part of Monsanto, introduced genetically modified tomatoes in the year 1992 called the “Flavr Savr Tomato”. This case analysis uses the Langenderfer & Rockness’ Seven Stage Framework to analyse the ethical decisions taken by the company. Stage 1: What are the facts of the case?

Calgene Inc. has invested $20 million in producing genetically modified (GM) tomatoes that did not require ethylene to ripen. They did so by using a technique called as “gene-splitting”. The result was a redder, firmer and a flavourful tomato. They planned to sell this product at a premium of 30-100% to the market. The environment was not conducive to the introduction of Flavr Savr Tomato. There was a lot of scepticism about modern science and its long-term effects on human health. There was also a feeling that genetically modified foods were inferior and dangerous to health. Farmers were refusing to cultivate GM crops, as they did not want to let go of their age-old beliefs with regard to organic farming. Similar efforts of genetic engineering in other spheres had failed miserably. Pure Food movement headed by Jeremy Rifkin was creating hurdles to the product launch and urging the major consumers to boycott this product. Stage 2: What are the ethical issues in this case?

1. Does the company launch the GM tomato in the market without really ascertaining the impact that it could have on the long-term health of human population? 2. Does the company disclose the uncertainty regarding the health hazards to the target market and run the risk of the project being rejected by the market? 3. Does the company suppress concerns to recover the investment that it has made in research? 4. Should it buy out / influence the FDI or other agencies and ask them to endorse this product? Stage 3: What are the norms, principles and values related to this case?...
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