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Romina Mathew (Institute of Management Technology - Hyderabad)
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While Monsanto’s foray into the arena of genetic modification and biotechnology have led to worldwide debates and concerns, the business practices of the agricultural giant have also been questioned on different occasions. Monsanto witnessed its share of protest in India too. While dilemma about the safety and morality of genetic engineering is just one aspect, the way the company went on to acquire approvals and market its products is also a matter of concern. A sector that was traditionally in the hands of farmers became the fiefdom of agribusiness giants, who used their financial powers and laws governing intellectual property to create monopolistic markets, overcharge poor farmers driving them to financial destitution and suicides. While Monsanto takes on a number of initiatives to develop sustainable agriculture and improve the lives of people, detractors point out that that these were reactive measures undertaken to curb the criticisms and negative sentiments of the community. They opine that CSR initiatives did not involve the various stakeholders' interests and that they were simply efforts to market their products. The case looks at an increasingly demanding society which expects corporations to be accountable and responsible for its actions, failing which they continue to be on the receiving end of criticism. It examines why a global multinational giant counted among the world’s most innovative companies is constantly in the news for the wrong reasons.


Corporate social responsibility (CSR); Ethics / values; Sustainability; Ethical dilemma; GMOs

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