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New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

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 former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate proposed a smartphone app allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were 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 and Google 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.