|Environmental Education in the Schools (Peace Corps, 1993)|
|Activities, activities and more activities|
The Great Midwest Grain Company (GMGC) was having trouble keeping its stored grain supplies free of molds and pests. Something had to be done! Customers were canceling orders and business was going downhill very quickly. If the company closed, the town of Junction would be devastated.
Harry Carter, owner of GMGC, tried to correct the problem; nothing worked. He knew that at one time heptachloride was used in homes, in gardens, and on farms to ward off pests and prevent molds. However, in 1983 the EPA had banned the use of heptachloride. It was suspected of causing damage to the liver and kidneys of infants, as well as birth defects and cancer.
Harry knew heptachloride was effective and inexpensive. He had used it for years without observable negative effects, and he questioned the EPA's judgment in outlawing it. He felt that the EPA could not conclusively demonstrate that heptachloride caused damage. Before it was banned, Harry's company had purchased a large supply of heptachloride. He checked the warehouse and found that hundreds of bags were still there. He wondered what would happen if he mixed small amounts of heptachloride with the feed? Harry had eaten beef from cattle that had consumed grain with large amounts of heptachloride in it, and he was still okay.
Harry was faced with a declining business. If he didn't do something soon, he and all the people who worked for him would be ruined. Harry also knew that mixing the prohibited chemical with the grain was illegal. He could go to jail.
What factors should Harry consider?
What are the most important considerations? Why?
Heptachloride is only suspected of being, rather than proven to be, harmful to humans. Does this make a difference? Why or why not?
Does Harry have a responsibility to do all he can to save his company? Why or why not?
Does he have an obligation to save his employees' jobs? Why or why not?
Does it matter that what Harry is considering is illegal? Why or why not?
Does Harry have a responsibility to the people who buy his grain? If so, what is his responsibility?
What should Harry Carter do? Why?
Harry decided that he had to take a chance. But he wouldn't involve anyone else in breaking a law, even one he felt was wrong. He mixed heptachloride with the grain each night. Since no one was at work then, no one else in the company knew what was happening. He continued his personal crusade to "save the town" for nearly two years. During that time it appeared that maybe Harry was right. Nothing happened. Until . . .
Gary and Joan Carlson had been operating their small farm for two years. They weren't making much money, and they were working long hours, but they were happy. "At least we have fresh air," Gary said.
"Yes, and fresh food, and milk from our own cows," Joan added. "And our baby will be born healthy out here."