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This App Scans Your Food for GMOs, Among Other Things

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buycott At some point, we all ask ourselves, “Where does all my money go?” But have you ever wondered this in a more literal sense? When you buy a product, where does that money go? Do your favorite brands and companies put your consumer dollars toward research, innovation and job creation? Do they donate to charity? Do they invest in efforts that influence policy? One company is out to answer these very questions—and it created an app to help you do the same.

The app is called Buycott and it serves two very important functions: to help consumers identify where their favorite products are coming from and, more importantly, to use that information to guide responsible purchasing decisions that better reflect the consumers’ values.

Once the Buycott app is downloaded, consumers can scan the barcode of any product and Buycott will display the campany’s entire ‘corporate family tree,’ tracing the brand all the way back to its parent corporate company. This function tends to shock many consumers who remain unaware that several of their favorite organic “niche brands” are actually owned by big-biz conglomerates. Buycott will also display company phone numbers, headquarters location and, our favorite feature, social media accounts associated with the parent company, which you can use to immediate let a company know why you are or aren’t purchasing their product.

Consumers can also join user-created campaigns that aggregate the information available in Buycott and use it to help direct purchasing decisions. When a user scans a product’s barcode, the information about the company in question is then backed up against the user’s joined campaigns to let him know if the brand he’s about to support has ever supported an issue he’s against.

For example, if you’re boycotting brands that donated to block GMO labeling last election period, you might join the Buycott campaign called Demand GMO Labeling. Once joined, if you scan a carton of Horizon Organics milk, Buycott will simply flash a note reminding you that Horizon Organics is owned by Dean Foods, a company that donated more than $250,000 to block GMO labeling. I know–it depressed me a little bit, too.

But not to worry—there is plenty of positivity weaved within these campaigns. While healthy food initiatives and GMO labeling campaigns seem to be among the top reasons shoppers are downloading the app, lead developer of the app, Ivan Pardo, a 26-year-old freelance programmer out of Los Angeles, doesn’t intend “to push any single point of view with the app,” he said in an interview with 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.”

With hundreds of user-created campaigns launched since the release of the Buycott app earlier this month, it seems Pardo successfully accomplished his objective. The app has something for everyone. Whether a consumer wishes to support labor rights, avoid the dirty dozen, ban hexane-processed soy or ditch any products from Koch, Buycott can help ensure that when consumers spend their hard-earned cash, that money doesn’t later fund efforts which they’re morally or ideologically opposed to.

To learn more about the app, visit their website. And if you use the app the next time you’re in the grocery store, let us know how it went!

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