Boycott MONSANTO By Scanning Your Shopping Cart and The Non-GMO Project
(New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart.)
Buycott shows you a product’s corporate family tree while you shop. Click here to get BUYCOTT
In her keynote speech at last year’s annual Netroots Nation gathering, Darcy Burner pitched a seemingly simple idea to the thousands of bloggers and web developers in the audience. The formerMicrosoft programmer and congressional candidate proposed a smartphone app allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Kochwere behind a product on the shelves.
Burner figured the average supermarket shopper had no idea that buying Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper or Dixie cups meant contributing cash to Koch Industries through its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. Similarly, purchasing a pair of yoga pants containing Lycra or a Stainmaster carpet meant indirectly handing the Kochs your money (Koch Industries bought Invista, one of the world’s largest fiber and textiles companies, in 2004 from DuPont).
At the time, Burner created a mock interface for her app, but that’s as far as she got. She was waiting to find the right team to build out the back end, which could be complicated given often murky corporate ownership structures.
She wasn’t aware that as she delivered her Netroots speech, a group of developers was hard at work on Buycott, an even more sophisticated version of the app she proposed.
“I remember reading Forbes’ story on the proposed app to help boycott Koch Industries and wishing that we were ready to launch our product,” said Buycott’s marketing director Maceo Martinez.
The app itself is the work of one Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, who has devoted the last 16 months to Buycott. “It’s been completely bootstrapped up to this point,” he said. Martinez and another friend have pitched in to promote the app.
Pardo’s handiwork is available for download on iPhone or Android, making its debut in iTunes andGoogle Play in early May. You can scan the barcode on any product and the free app will trace its ownership all the way to its top corporate parent company, including conglomerates like Koch Industries.
Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate family tree on your phone screen. Scan a box of Splenda sweetener, for instance, and you’ll see its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson .
Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott business practices that violate your principles rather than single companies. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling, will scan your box of cereal and tell you if it was made by one of the 36 corporations that donated more than $150,000 to oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.
Deciding to add that campaign to your Buycott app might make buying your breakfast nearly impossible, as that list includes not just headline grabbers like agricultural giant Monsanto but just about every big consumer company with a presence in the supermarket aisle: Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg’s, Unilever and more.
Buycott is still working on adding new data to its back end and fine-tuning its information on corporate ownership structures. Most companies in the current database actually own more brands than Buycott has on record. The developers are asking shoppers to help improve their technology by inputting names of products they scan that the app doesn’t already recognize.
And if this all sounds worthy but depressing, be assured that your next trip to the supermarket needn’t be all doom and gloom. There are Buycott campaigns encouraging shoppers to support brands that have, say, openly backed LGBT rights. You can scan a bottle of Absolut vodka or a bag of Starbucks coffee beans and learn that both companies have come out for equal marriage.
“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” said Pardo. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think it’s Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”
Forbes reached out to Koch Industries and Monsanto for comment and will update this story with any responses.
Non-GMO Project App
Download the app for free by clicking here!
Designed to support consumers in knowing what’s in our food and avoiding GMOs, this app features a list of the brands and products that are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project’s Product Verification Program. The Non-GMO Project’s program is the ONLY third-party non-GMO verification program in North America, and “Non-GMO Project Verified” is the only non-GMO claim backed by transparent and rigorous standards. The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization originally founded by retailers committed to providing consumers with reliable non-GMO choices.
Since its incorporation in 2007, the Project has grown into a collaboration of manufacturers, retailers, processors, distributors, farmers, seed companies and consumers. Our shared belief is that everyone deserves an informed choice about whether or not to consume genetically modified products, and our common mission is to ensure the sustained availability of non-GMO food and products.
The list of Non-GMO Project brands and products in this guide is searchable by product type, brand name, product name, and key word. It addition, you can use it to find Supporting Retailers in your area who can help you with your non-GMO shopping. The guide also includes tips for avoiding GMOs, including a list of GMO crops and common ingredients at risk for GMO contamination. More on the history and mission of the Non-GMO Project is included as well. Use this guide any time you shop—you’ll find it to be the ultimate resource for helping you avoid GMOs!
This App is Available for both iPhones and iPod Touchs’.
*Article originally appeared at The Golden Light Channel.*