Purchase power: App allows votes against Monsanto, for GMO labeling

A new app aims to become an engine for consumer activism, helping users spend money on products from companies they share causes with, boycotting those they don’t. The prime targets at the moment are Monsanto and Koch brothers.

The power that new technology gives to grassroots movements
comes into focus occasionally. It did when people rallied to the
protection of internet freedoms from SOPA/PIPA bills on the call
from online giants. It did when Egyptian anti-government protesters
or London rioters coordinated their action through Facebook and

The people behind Buycott, a new app for Apple devices,
apparently eye the same direction. The program combines a simple
barcode scanner with a database of corporate ownership and a
website for user-suggested activism campaigns.

A campaign lists companies that support some cause, like
opposing factory farming or lobbying for the big oil, which
supporters of the campaign would love or hate. When a barcode is
scanned, the application tracks the product to the parent company
that will ultimately profit from the purchase and checks against
your selected campaigns. If there is a match, the app green-lights
or red flags the product.

Buycott is by no means the first mobile app to promote activism through boycotting or buying something. But
it’s apparently the first one aiming to remain neutral and giving
the users the choice of which cause they want to champion. At the
moment the most popular campaigns denounce the conservative
businessmen Charles and David Koch and promote GMO labeling, with
both sporting more than 20,000 supporters, but there is no reason
why opposite campaigns wouldn’t become popular too. Campaigns for
opposing goals do exist even now.

Screenshot from buycott.com

“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the
Ivan Pardo, the man behind it, told Forbes. “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.”

The Los Angeles-based 26-year-old freelance programmer spent the
last 16 months to develop the app. It debuted in iTunes and Google
play in early May, but since then the Android version had been
suspended, because Buycott was caught unprepared for the sudden
popularity and the technical difficulties it cause.

“I simply didn’t set up the servers to be prepared to handle 10+
new users every second. I was expecting a more manageable rise,”
Pardo explained

Apart from managing the workload on servers and fixing glitches
the company is busy updating its corporate database. The multitier
ownership structure is quite intricate, and some brands do not
quite link to their parent companies at the moment. They are also
asking users to give info on products that are missing in their

This article originally appeared on : RT