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Internet petition drives are forcing the attention of government and politicians

Posted: May 8, 2012 |   Comments

Kellogg?s Kashi natural cereal uses some genetically modified ingredients. That was enough to convince an organic grocer in Portsmouth, Rhode Island to pull the brand from his store?s shelves.

Then, a photo of a sign displayed on one of the empty shelves explaining what had happened quickly went viral, lighting up the Web. Kellogg Co. (K)'s Kashi unit responded last week with a video on Facebook (FB) defending its use of the ingredients. By then, however, the noise level was rising, with some online groups threatening a boycott. It was just the latest skirmish in an escalating Internet-
based uprising. Facebook, Twitter and petition sites like have birthed a brand of consumer activism that lets people rally supporters under a common cause at breakneck speed.

The tactic has caught on in a big way, taking on one company after another, putting practices under a spotlight: bug extracts at Starbucks Corp. (SBUX), livestock antibiotics at Cargill Inc. and the treatment of animals by McDonald's Corp. (MCD)

"It used to be the most power you had was writing your congressman" and waiting, said Amanda Hitt, director of the food integrity campaign at the Government Accountability Project, a Washington-based public advocacy group. "Now petitions are becoming an especially powerful tool."

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