Genetically Modified Foods: The Downfall of Monsanto Essay

Genetically Modified Foods: The Downfall of Monsanto Essay

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Executive Summary

Monsanto¡¦s downfall could be attributed to several reasons. The passion of Alan Shapiro¡¦s vision blinded the Company into making rash decisions and the large amounts of money spent pursuing the objective prevented any U-turns later. The company¡¦s unshaken beliefs that it was correct had made it arrogant and not listen to the outrage all around. Monsanto underestimated consumer resistance.

There was no obvious benefit in the products introduced. It may have been a different story if the products were introduced in developing counties where transport is poor or people starving from crop failures.

Monsanto also ignored cultural differences. Canada and US were indifferent to genetically modified products but there was anger in Europe and the UK. Recent blunders by government handling the BSE and ¡§Mad Cow¡¨ outbreaks dampened people¡¦s confidence in genetically modified products.

Selling the idea of genetically modified crops is not easy. The industry needs to persuade people of the benefits and the companies must be seen to be socially responsible, socially responsive and ethical. Companies mission statements must not seem to be solely profit driven.

Introduction - Monsanto and Alan Shapiro's Vision

"It's about the earth, it's about the environment, and it¡¦s about food. It's about health and nutrition. Those are deep, ancient things for civilisation, and they are for the people." - Alan Shapiro

The Monsanto Company in 1995 led by Alan Shapiro was involved in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, food and chemicals. Shapiro's passionate vision was the application of biology to food, nutrition and human health. He believed that people would want the products offered by Monsanto. The products themselves are protected by patents, thus restricting competition. All Monsanto needed to do was dominate and position all their products as either number one or two in their respective markets.

Consolidation started in the seed market that was already concentrated in the hands of a few companies. By 1999 Monsanto spent more than $8 billion making acquisitions. Four corn seed companies had controlled 87% of the US market in 1996. Monsanto acquired two of them, Holden's Foundation Seeds and DeKalb. Delta & Land Pine controlled 75% of the cottonseed market and Monsanto made a bid for that company too.

It was a simple winning strategy preac...

... middle of paper ...

...d user safety. Figure 3 shows a suitable process where products are assessed prior to introduction and results evaluated.

It is important for organisations operating in this area to be ethical. The organisation must be socially responsible, i.e. monitor social developments, forecast potential problems and even conduct surveys to determine social requirements. The organisation must have special departments, taskforce or committees e.g. DuPont that are responsive to the changing social sentiments.

The company must persuade people of the benefits of biotechnology and genetically enhanced products listen to all stakeholders and not underestimate consumer resistance.


Byrne, J. ¡§How Jack Welch runs GE¡¨ ¡V Business Week 8 June 1998

Genetically Modified Crops: The Ethical and Social Issues -

Batalion, N. ¡§50 Harmful effects of Genetically Modified Foods¡¨ -

Specter, M. ¡§Food that Bit Back¡¨ - Good Weekend 10 June 2000.

Hewett, J. ¡§DuPont turns into a green crusader¡¨ ¡V Sydney Morning Herald 4 June 2001

Adventa Home Page -

Sygenta Home Page -

Pioneer Hi-Bred Home Page -

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