New App Lets You Boycott Monsanto And Other Harmful Companies
One of the biggest problems facing socially or environmentally conscious consumers today is ignorance. Through no fault of our own, it can be nearly impossible to keep track of which companies use either environmentally or socially appalling means to produce their products (palm oil, for example). It can also often be impossible to know whether you are buying foods that contain genetically modified ingredients or not, and thus you may be inadvertently supporting companies like Monsanto even if you take a moral stand against their conduct in the global market. Luckily this problem has now been solved! A fantastic new app, “Buycott”, lets consumers scan products to find out which companies –and therefore which policies– they are supporting by buying that product.
Darcy Burner, a former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate, proposed such an app in her keynote speech at the Netroots Nation conference last year. She wanted consumers to be able to know whether or not they were supporting people like billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch with their purchases. Her speech inspired an independent programmer, Ivan Prado, to develop Buycott and inform consumers about how all of their purchases were impacting the society around them.
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 JNJ -0.51%.
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.
The app is available for download on iPhone or Android. The technology is still growing and the developers are asking consumers to enter the name of products they scan that the app does not yet recognize. Once the app catches on and the technology improves, this will be an extremely powerful tool to empower consumers and allow them to truly make informed decisions on what they are buying and thus what they are supporting. If we can collectively become informed on the issues and make purchasing choices accordingly, we can force companies to adopt better practices and help to steer the economy towards a greener, more socially just model than the one we are blindly accepting as the norm today.