Never again be duped into buying your favorite kind of bread only to find out that it was made by a company that contributed millions to defeat efforts to label genetically modified organisms in the food supply.
A new app called "Buycott" is an ingenious new tool you can use on your smartphone to find out who owns the brand of bread, or clothes, or lotion, or toys you buy and how that owner's lobbying dollars are being spent.
The intent of the app is to "bring transparency to your transactions," as the app's welcoming screen states it, and to let you support—in other words, buy from or "buycott"—companies that support the same causes you do. When you scan a product, the app looks through its database to determine which company owns that brand, which company owns that company, and on and on until the parent company is revealed. All that information is presented in a corporate family tree.
But wait, there's more! Once you create an account (which you have to do to use the app), you get to choose campaigns, such as labeling genetically modified foods or marriage equality, and when you scan a product, the app will tell you if the company behind it (or any of its parents) has ever spent money to support or hinder any of those efforts.
For example, scan the barcode of a pound of Starbucks coffee and you'll find out that Starbucks is still owned by Starbucks and that the company has spent money to support marriage equality. Scan the tag of a pair of Lycra gym shorts, and you'll find out that you're indirectly supporting Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the billionaire Koch brothers, who purchased Lycra from DuPont in 2004 and who have spent millions of dollars funding climate-change denial campaigns.
The app has been so popular that in its brief existence—the app launched May 4—it's already jumped to the #12 spot in total free apps in Apple's iTunes, and according to the app's developer, at one point, the app was being downloaded from Android's app store at the rate of 10 downloads per second. The developer's website, www.Buycott.com, has had so much traffic that it's crashed a few times. The app is available for free through both Apple and Android app stores, although Android users may need to wait a few days because a bug was uncovered that caused the developer to pull it temporarily.
Find out more: New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto and More by Scanning Your Shopping Cart, Forbes.com, May 14, 2013
Published on: May 15, 2013
Updated on: May 16, 2013