Monsanto Ethics Study

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Case Study on Monsanto

|Name |Roll Number | |Ajay Thakral |10IB-005 | |Amit Kumar Rai |10IB-008 | |Aditya Singh |10FN-005 | |Deepmala Roy |10DM-040 | |Aditya Agarwal |10DM-007 | |Arun R |10DM-020 |

Monsanto - The Evil Empire

It was a cold wintry day in Creve Coeur as Mr. Hugh Grant (Chairman, President & CEO) of Monsanto sat pondering on the latest controversy that had hit Monsanto quite publicly in the past few days. It fact Monsanto had been always involved in disputes, legal quarrels and controversies ever since the company had ventured into the plastics industry in the 1940’s. The company had since expanded it’s portfolio of products to include DDT, polyurethanes, optoelectronics, synthetic fibers and LED’s amongst others. However, it was when they had pioneered the process of genetically modifying seeds that the company entered a new phase of growth that was to catapult them onto the world stage and eventually lead them to a virtual monopoly in providing GM seeds to farmers.

Beset on all fronts by disputes as varied as the dumping of toxic waste, bribing convictions in Indonesia, misleading advertising in France and child labour allegations to name a few, Hugh Grant wondered where the company had lost it’s way and what could be done to set things right.

Origins of Monsanto

Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, by John Francis Queeny, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. He funded the start-up with his own money and capital from a soft drink distributor, and gave the company his wife's maiden name. His father in law was Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto, wealthy financier of a sugar company active in Vieques, Puerto Rico and based in St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies. The company's first product was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which it sold to the Coca-Cola Company. It also introduced caffeine and vanillin to Coca-Cola, and became one of that company's main suppliers.

The company slowly surely started to diversify it’s offerings as the years went by. In the 1920’s Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals like sulfuric acid. It again entered a new industry in the 1940’s when it started manufacturing plastics, including polystyrenes and synthetic fibers. Monsanto went on to become one of the top 10 US chemical companies.

Monsanto was a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s. In 1968 they became the first company to start mass production of (visible) Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs), using gallium arsenide phosphide. This ushered in the era of solid-state lights. From 1968 to 1970 sales doubled every few months. Their products (discrete LEDs and seven-segment numeric displays) became the standards of industry. The primary markets then were electronic calculators, digital watches, and digital clocks.

However it was when Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell in 1982 that Monsanto began it’s transformative journey from a chemical giant to a biotech behemoth. The major chemicals manufactured by Monsanto till then had included DDT, Agent Orange, artificial sweetener aspartame, bovine somatotropin and PCB’s.

Through a series of spin offs and mergers, the Monsanto that existed from 1901 to 2000 and the current Monsanto are legally two distinct corporations. Although they share the same name and corporate headquarters, many of the same executives and...
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