Ethics and Ethical Decisions Jenise Bowling

Patent Infringement with Genetically Modified Crops

Gentically Modified Crops

Genetically modified crops are crops where one or more of their traits are altered to better survive in their environment or so they're more appealing. A beneficial trait is taken from another organism and inserted into another crop, so when the crop grows they will express that trait.

Genetically modified crops have been around since the 1960s, when scientists in the Philippines created a new version of rice known as IR8. IR8 had a bigger head of grain, so more rice could be produced per yield. They also had a stronger stem so the bigger head wouldn't collapse. Years later in 1982 they improved IR8, introducing IR36. IR36 was resistant against 15 pests and had a growing cycle of 110 days. This growing cycle made it possible to have 3 harvests a year, as opposed to the one harvest a year.

Patent Infringement: Monsanto

Monsanto is a chemical company that produces Roundup, a weed killer. They also genetically modify seeds, which they sell to farmers. Monsanto has a patent on these seeds, meaning farmers cannot keep the seeds that are produced from the seeds they buy. They are deemed Monsanto's invention, and therefore property. If a farmer were to keep the seeds that are produced, they would be sued for patent infringement.

The pictures above are of a soybean field and a corn field. Soybeans and corn are two of the crops that Monsanto had made genetically modified seeds of.

Is it ethical for Monsanto to sue farmers?

Sometimes when Monsanto sues a farmer for patent infringement, they are no longer allowed to buy products from Monsanto. Monsanto is the main company that works with farmers, so there aren't many companies they can buy from; it would be hard for them to make a living. Because of this, farmers think Monsanto is unethical. However, when farmers buy seeds from Monsanto, they sign a contract stating they won't save the seeds and replant them. Not only would that be patent infringement, it would also violate the contract they signed.

Monsanto is ethical in its actions. No business can survive without being paid for its product. If they're not paid, they can't fund research to produce a better genetically modified seed, which they would sell to farmers; Monsanto uses 2.6 million dollars a day for research. To not sue would also be unfair for the farmers would do follow the contract. It is fair for the farmers who violate the contract face the consequences that come with it.

Gender Roles in the Workplace

Women are often paid less than men and have lower level jobs. Women are earn only 75 percent of a man's wage.

There is a gender pay gap. Women earn only 75% as much as men.

Some traditions and customs have kept women from receiving higher wages or roles in work. For example, The Penelopiad is a book that is from the perspective of a wife, Penelope. She lives in the time of the Trojan War, and where she lives patriarchy is a part of life. Patriarchy is when the male or husband of the family runs the household. In the book, even when Penelope's husband, Odysseus, is away, she still runs the house, adding slaves and wealth to his status. In some modern cultures, the male is in control as well, even if the female does the work.

In The Penelopiad, Penelope faces gender stereotypes.

Penelope's example also shows gender stereotypes, the case being women are supposed to be kind and polite, whereas men are expected to be loud and speak their mind in any way, shape, or form. Women are also perceived to be weaker than men, usually physically. This isn't ethical, as assumptions and income are made of someone simply because of their gender.

The Internet and Family Relationships

Technology has impacted people and families in many ways, some good and some bad. Teenagers and young adults are often the first that come to mind when the internet is mentioned. With all the time adolescents spend on the internet, family relationships are certain to change, for better of for worse.

In Growing Up Online, a documentary studying the Internet's affects on teenagers, many parents stated the family connection wasn't as strong; their children were more concerned with their online lives. With one mom, she stated that after she interfered with her son and his friends' lives, he cut off interaction with them except for at the dinner table. The son told his family they had ruined his high school years.

Growing Up Online focused on how the internet was affecting teenagers and relationships between their families.

Problematic Internet Use

Problematic internet use, or PIU, is a behavior addiction where a person's obsession with the internet causes conflicts in their life. The conflicts can be psychological, social, school-related, or work-related. There was a study on how PIU affects a person's relationship with their family.

Positives of the Internet

Many people said that the internet helped them feel closer to their family, especially extended family or other family members that they couldn't see in person because of distance. Others said they've been able to connect with family over things found on the internet.

Some people said the Internet helped to connect or chat with family who were far away or who they couldn't see often.

Negatives of the Internet

Many people also said their internet use has created conflicts or caused them to disconnect from family. Instead of talking to family or friends, they'd be on social media. Their parents and siblings would complain to them about their internet use and of things they saw on the internet or social media they didn't approve of. Some people said they had a family member who they were concerned for because they spent so much time online. In one instance, a person's cousin's vision became impaired from excessive gaming, but they won't stop playing their game. In another, someone's sister spent hours late at night talking to people while her parents thought they were asleep; their parents have no idea they're spending hours a night talking to people. In another, a person's brother got an iPad. He's only four, and gets very defensive if anyone tries to take it away from him.

Some people said their families were concerned with how much time they spent online. They would also complain about how much time they spent on the Internet and social media.

The internet has both positives and negatives. While it can be useful in many ways, it is unethical for people to be obsessed with it because it can come between family relationships and weaken the bond between family members.


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Kenner, R., Pearce, R., Schlosser, E., Robledo, M., Pohlad, W., Skoll, J., . . . Adler, M. (Writers), & Pearce, R. (Director). (2009). Food, Inc. [Motion picture on DVD]. USA: Magnolia Pictures.

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Snyder, S. M., Li, W., O'Brien, J. E., & Howard, M. O. (2015, December 11). The Effect of U.S. University Students' Problematic Internet Use on Family Relationships: A Mixed-Methods Investigation. Retrieved February 12, 2017, from


Created with images by DonkeyHotey - "Scales of Justice" • UnitedSoybeanBoard - "Soybean Field" • UnitedSoybeanBoard - "Corn Fields"

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