Global business ethics lesson 09

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LESSON DEPLETION OF NATURAL RESOURCES CONTENTS 9.0 Aims and Objectives 9.1 Introduction 9.2 Controlling the Agribusiness 9.3 Critical Concerns 9.4 Some other Issues 9.5 Conservation of Resources 9.6 Let us Sum up 9.7 Lesson End Activity 9.8 Keywords 9.9 Questions for Discussion 9.10 Suggested Readings 9.0 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES After studying this lesson, you should be able to understand: z The depletion of natural resources z The most critical concerns facing the world community for the next 15-26 years 9.1 INTRODUCTION Seeds are the beginning of food, the first link in the food chain Control seeds and you control food Yet, take a stroll through any of the North's supermarkets and the threat of such control seems patently absurd The cornucopia of fruits, vegetables and canned goods lining the shopping aisles may total average of 11,000 separate good products Another 7,000 products are test-marketed each year Such abundance and diversify makes any thought of rood monopolies Seem ridiculous In fact the North's food choices are narrowing and food quality is declining We eat less fresh fruits and vegetables than we did in the comparatively dismal days following World War II Today's diet contains a quarter of the apples our grandparents ate and consumption of garden 'greens' and beans in North America has been declining since the 1950s The US government surveys show only nine vegetables make a significant nutritional contribution to the American diet North America and Western Europe is 'meat and potatoes' country We occasionally dabble in exotic foods from some small corner of Mother Nature’s pantry But our overwhelming vegetable choices boil down to maize (corn), peas and carrots In fact diversity has never been a strong suit in the North's agricultural system 95 percent of all human nutrition is from only thirty plants and three quarters of world energy requirements come from eight basic crops There may be 300,000 potential 89 Depletion of Natural Resources 90 Global Business Ethics food plants out there in nature but the marketing strategies of agribusiness have managed to ignore most of them virtually every major food plant in the industrialized countries originated in the Third World In Asia, Africa and Latin America, traditional farmers continue to cultivate seeds and crops that form the genetic base for all plant breeding and our entire food system After more than 10 million of selection by nature and by farmers, the plant genetic diversity of the Third World makes if the 'mother lode' of raw materials for modern plant breeding Northern agronomists must return to the Third World regularly in order to find new genes (the building blocks of plant breeding) to insert into crops in the North We may be grain-rich but we are gene-poor The problem is that the genetic base of the major food crops in the Third World is being wiped out As these old seeds vanish so does our food security As new 'Green Revolution' varieties spread around the Third World, farmers eat the old seed and plant the new Geneticist Garrison Wilkes describes the effect of these phenomena as 'building the roof with stones from the foundation.' Events in the early 1970s served to accelerate the destruction of our food base and make the control of seeds possible Shell Oil (oil company) noted then that two major changes had affected the seed industry: the Green Revolution and Plant Breeders' Rights For companies the size of Shell Oil, the success of the new 'super seeds' showed that the North's aid agencies were ready to underwrite a global seed industry Third World governments would have the funds to subsidize seed prices and world markets could be found for new commercial seeds In the same year that Normal Borlaug picked up the Nobel Peace Prize for leading the Green Revolution, the United States adopted plant patent legislation In one stroke the global market for patented seeds tripled With patents, companies could look to exclusive monopoly control over a new plant variety This monopoly provision (Plant Breeders' Right) would allow big companies to vertically integrate from breeding to seed retailing The threat of patent litigation would bar small family based seed companies from the competition From a standing start in 1970, Shell Oil now markets seeds through at least 60 companies in Europe, North America, Latin America and Africa It is by far the largest seed enterprise in the world Close behind are the two Swiss chemical twins, Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy - with 22 and 30 companies respectively Other European majors -none of whom appear to have been in the seed business a decade ago - are Sweden's Kena Nobel and Cardo; France's Aquaitaine and Rohne - Poulenc, and Holland's Suiker - Unie Across the pond the Americans caught on fast; dominant companies now include Pfizer, Upjohn, Olin, Occidental Petroleum, Stauffer Chemicals, Atlantic-Rickfield and Superior Oil It appears more than 400 firms have been bought up or chased out over the past ten years The effect in the marketplace has been astonishing For the first time ever US seed prices broke their traditional link to former commodity prices to rise at a rate exceeding all other agricultural input costs - including petroleum products Seed prices in the United States doubled and doubled again in the course of a decade One forage crop, alfalfa, jumped from just over $22 a sack in 1967 to $ 111 in 1978 At the same time multinationals moved to consolidate their control of both patents and the market In a land of seed companies dating back to Cromwell's day, three multinationals took over England's packet seed (vegetables and flowers) trade Shell Oil, Kema Nobel and Cardo now have 78 per cent of the retail business after buying out local firms Seed industry sources in the UK claim Shell accounts for 40 per cent of all plant patent royalties in that country Often the same companies exert the same patent influence around the industrialized world from Sweden to New Zealand 9.2 CONTROLING THE AGRIBUSINESS Farmers and consumers in many countries are particularly concerned that the world's new seeds are almost exclusively from the chemical side of agribusiness Since seeds flow through the same marketing channels as crop chemicals, this is hardly surprising, but analysts are worried that chemical giants may reap special advantages from the dovetailing of their plant breeding and crop protection work Certainly, the possibility exists that companies may offer farmers a 'package deal' of seeds and chemicals New work in seed packing is increasing the market for clay wrapped seed complete with chemical inoculates - thus making the farmer an offer he can't refuse Ciba-Geigy has recently come up with the perfect seeds and chemicals package With its patented sorghum varieties, the company now offers a trio of chemical seed 'safeners' Two combat pests in the soil while the third protects the seeds from Ciba-Geigy's leading herbicide spray 'Dual' which might otherwise harm the seed This is known as the Clint Eastwood' approach to plant breeding ('Any which way you can') Of still greater concern is the potential for seed / chemical companies to profit by simply doing nothing if and when a disease attacks a crop Rather than find an 'organic' way of combating a new disease with an improved variety, the company may merely refer farmers to the chemicals already on the shelf As disturbing as the corporate trend is in the North it is reaching crisis proportions in the South There has been an overly aggressive marketing of genetic explosion beyond the capacity of germplasm The big companies are only interested in the large acreage crops, often export crops These tend'-to; take over traditional poor people's crops or move into climatic zones and soils inappropriate to the commercial variety This 'commerciogenic wipe-out' has led to intense efforts to collect and store endangered germplasm Through the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), a campaign to establish a system of global gene banks for storage of crop material is now over eight years old Of the more than 30 crops for which base collections have been established, virtually every crop of economic importance has been assigned to the North - to countries with Plant Breeders' Rights monopolies It is estimated that 75-90 per cent of all Third World plant genetic resources in storage is in the North Plant Breeders' Rights provisions that allow someone to simply 'discover' a new variety and obtain exclusive rights infuriate many Third World scientists Such a loose provision leads to the direct rip-off of Third World treasures A case in point is US patent No 551 awarded some years ago to Quincy Mckeen who found the rare flowers on a stroll in Guatemala He scooped up all he could find and hot footed it back to his New England home where he grew out the seeds - kept the best and destroyed the rest of the natural diversity to avoid competition The Third World governments are not anxious to be any further indebted to multinational corporations As one diplomat said at the FAO conference in Rome recently,’ give us this day our daily bread' should not be a prayer to Shell Oil Check Your Progress State whether the following statements are true or false: North America and Western Europe is ‘meat and potato’ country Ciba-Geigy is the largest seed enterprise in the world followed by Shell Oil 75-90 per cent of all the third world plant genetic resources in storage are in the North 91 Depletion of Natural Resources 92 Global Business Ethics 9.3 CRITICAL CONCERNS The most critical concerns facing the World Community for the next 15-26 years are as follows: Food: World hunger is increasing Over 15,000 people die of starvation or malnutrition related causes in a day Some cannot afford to consume for survival, while some others are privileged to consume only for enjoyment Population: While population growth rates have slowed down in the industrial countries, the overall world population is expected to increase by 50 per cent from present levels of Over one million people are added to the population of the world every days About 90 per cent of this increase will be in poorer nations India's population has already risen to over a billion Environment: There is only one air, one water and one land system for our planet earth Upon these interrelated systems, the biosphere, the survival and heart of all life forms and all people depend Damage to one part upsets the whole system Already the fertility of the topsoil and the quality of sanitary water supply are badly affected Water-related diseases kill 10 million people every year These diseases are the leading killers of children Again, oceans as the vital source of food and oxygen supply are being poisoned day by day USA alone now discharges over 50 million tons off wastes per year into the ocean Forests are vital to the earth's oxygen supply and to control Carbon dioxide Even the Amazon jungle, known as the lungs of the world, is at a grave danger A heat plant and water system is very essential for the earth's oxygen supply Chemical pollutants and radiation from nuclear testing further deteriorate the quality of the air we breathe Health: 80 per cent of the people in the world are without adequate health care services One billion people suffer from long standing malnutrition and tropical parasite diseases Blindness affects 30 to 40 pillion people in the Third World Housing: About 800 million people lack adequate shelter In cities of Third World, 250 million people live in slums and sleep on pavements Many of them are born there and are destined to die there Education and Literacy: Only 47 per cent of the world's school-age children attend schools In some countries the percentage of illiteracy is 70 per cent of the population Most illiterates in the world are women - in the poorest countries $5 per cent illiterate, while in the richest percent Poverty and Development: The average income of the richest region, North America, is 60 times larger than the average in the poorest region, South Asia Over a billion people, that is, one fourth of world population, live in countries with an average income below $200 yearly The gap between the high and lowincome regions of the world is widening, hi India the top fifth of the population has more than 60 per cent of the national wealth, and the bottom fifth has less than per cent of it Unemployment: There are about 20 million people out of work in developed countries and an estimated 455 million jobless or underemployed people in developing countries Human Rights: The world has still to overcome discrimination among people on the basis of color, caste and creed Apartheid in South Africa is a case in point 10 Terrorism: Lately, terrorism has become an international issue, raising its ugly head in different parts of the world 11 Resource and Scarcity: Depletion of resources goes at a faster rate than the earth's capacity to renew them Some are non-renewable Oil is only one example 12 Transnational Corporations: Some TNCs have more assets and higher income than many nations Their power is extensive - South Africa, Chile, Brazil - some of these corporations have been involved in the toppling of local governments, interference in labour organizations and the elimination of small, local enterprises through unfair practices - Union Carbide and the Bhopal gas tragedy 13 Alienation: As these problems escalate unchecked, there is a growing sense of despair and alienation Many seeing no sign of hope predict a 'doomsday' in the near future We are at a crisis point But should a crisis be necessarily a breakdown or can it be also a breakthrough? Here is the scope for a discussion on a new world order, a more human and human order 9.4 SOME OTHER ISSUES Global interdependence now makes a mockery of territorial boundaries This fact makes it imperative that we seek world order alternatives as a basis for true security and well-being Examples of this interdependence include: Industrial pollutants from Ruhr in Germany have travelled 6000 miles to Alaska Inflation is a global reality no longer controllable by national fiscal and monetary policy alone The jobs of millions of workers in the West are dependent upon exports to developing countries Developing nations supply over 40 per cent of the world's total energy needs, close to 100 per cent of US requirements for natural rubber, tin, and the bauxite used for aluminium Tree growths, food crops and the fish population in freshwater lakes have suffered from acid rain originating in industrial areas thousands of miles away The number of people held hostage to the threat of nuclear catastrophe has reached 4,500,000,000 Check Your Progress Fill in the blanks: are the beginning of food, the first link in the food chain in many countries are particularly concerned that the world's new seeds are almost exclusively from the chemical side of agribusiness is World Environmental Day 9.5 CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES The training of military personnel in the United States alone costs twice as much public money per year as the education budget for the 3000,000,000 school age children in South Asia The Amazon jungle - known as the lungs of the world because it produces one quarter of the earth's oxygen supply - is being rapidly cut down by the Brazilian government and multinational corporations in the search for scarce resources deemed essential for 'national security' 93 Depletion of Natural Resources 94 Global Business Ethics Public expenditures for health care, housing, and programs for the poor and elderly are out, while military budgets escalate Environmental protection laws and programmes are repealed in view of 'national security' goals related to trade and energy Small circles of nations, security elites increasingly make national decisions concerning, monetary and scarce resource security With a stockpile of nuclear weapons which is one million times greater than the destruction, of the Hiroshima bomb, the bigger powers are still investing good amounts to upgrade their nuclear arsenals If present trends continue - lack of a world security system - nuclear scientists predict nuclear war in the immediate future The environment is the most precious asset of the Indian people Unfortunately, over the years we have denuded and destroyed our environment in many ways Both droughts and floods have ravaged India, over the last decades Increasing environmental destruction is also increasing the hazard-proneness of the affected areas Of all the environmental problems facing the country, the problem of deforestation has received the maximum public attention The latest satellite data confirm that India is losing 1.3 million hectares of forest every year The cost of forest loss due to construction of dams is very high and large dams have drowned millions of hectares of forests It is time for the government to muster the political will and courage to reverse the environmental degeneration Farmers and consumers in many countries are particularly concerned that the world's new seeds are almost exclusively from the chemical side of agribusiness 9.6 LET US SUM UP Thousands of workers die everywhere because of occupational diseases, the gravest one caused by various types of dust like asbestos dust, slate pencil dust, and the dust at various mining sites One million miners suffer from silicosis Mosquito-born diseases are rapidly growing and grossly under-reported Malaria incidents may be as high as 20 million though official statistics claim only 2.16 million Malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis and various other epidemics are a result of the steady degeneration of the environment The above analysis indicates the severity of environmental destruction in India It is time for life government to muster the political will and courage to reverse the environmental degeneration If the Government does not act, the progressive environmental degeneration will worsen the plight of the poor and the rich alike 9.7 LESSON END ACTIVITY Depletion of natural resources refers to a state of exhaustion of resources Explain 9.8 KEYWORDS Environment: Surrounding conditions by which living forms are influenced in their growth Pollution: Discharge into the environment of toxic substances Depletion: The using up of a natural resource 9.9 QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION Many of the preventive techniques are used, but only few are successful Give your comment on this Give reasons for depletion of natural resources List out the importance of natural resources Give the implications of depletion of natural resources Check Your Progress: Model Answers CYP 1 True, False, True CYP Seeds Farmers and consumers June 5th 9.10 SUGGESTED READINGS Manuel G Velasquez, Business Ethics Laura P Hart Man, Business Ethics John R Boat Right, Ethics in Conduct of Business William A Wines, Ethics Law and Business 95 Depletion of Natural Resources ... SUGGESTED READINGS Manuel G Velasquez, Business Ethics Laura P Hart Man, Business Ethics John R Boat Right, Ethics in Conduct of Business William A Wines, Ethics Law and Business 95 Depletion of Natural...90 Global Business Ethics food plants out there in nature but the marketing strategies of agribusiness have managed to ignore most of them virtually... resources deemed essential for 'national security' 93 Depletion of Natural Resources 94 Global Business Ethics Public expenditures for health care, housing, and programs for the poor and elderly
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