The term “grassroots campaign” isn’t new, but the people and technologies that develop grassroots campaigns have evolved. President Obama’s 2008 presidential bid is the most successful grassroots campaign in history, generating an estimated $500 billion in donations with the help of a network of social media savvy communicators. Since the 2008 election, grassroots campaigns have spiked, and people across the globe are strategically organizing to generate awareness about social causes that affect the masses.

 

Agricultural product company Monsanto is watching its earnings plummet due to grassroots campaigns. Monsanto has long been the subject of scrutiny in the media and the public, with “evil” being among Monsanto’s most common nicknames. A proponent and maker of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), all of them suspected to pose significant health and environmental threats, Monsanto represents to the public the epitome of corporate greed.

 

Millions Against Monsanto Logo

Millions Against Monsanto has been campaigning against Monsanto since the 1990s (Organic Consumers Association)

GMOs are a source of contention not only in the eyes of the public, but also in the eyes of the medical and agricultural communities. Food activists have had it out for Monsanto for years. Unfortunately, activists have had little success in halting the production and distribution of GMOs, including a failed lawsuit that would have forced food producers to label products that contain GMOs. However, Monsanto reported in early January that their earnings fell 34 percent in the first fiscal quarter. Although this is largely attributed to the increase in corn production by American farmers, a large grassroots campaign called Millions Against Monsanto has had a significant impact on the company’s recent losses.

 

 

Monsanto March Picture

Millions marched in cities around the world to protest Monsanto’s use of GMOs (Eco Watch)

Organized by the Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit devoted to campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability, Millions Against Monsanto has delivered to the public consistent, effective messages about the dangers of GMOs. In May 2014, millions participated in the March Against Monsanto, which was organized by Tami Monroe Canal and took place in many cities around the world. This year’s march is scheduled for May 2015, and with the rising demand for safe, GMO-free food, the march is likely to generate even bigger crowds.

 

There’s much to learn about grassroots campaigns from the Monsanto example. For organizations with little financing, grassroots campaigns, especially those that integrate online communications, can have a broad reach and substantial impact. For corporations that believe their business practices, however unethical, will go unnoticed or unchecked, the Monsanto example is an omen of what’s to come. Socially responsible companies understand this, and they develop CSR plans to educate the public about their ethical business practices. The public is educated and active, and they will organize — either for you or against you.

 

Do you think grassroots campaigns have the power to take down large corporations like Monsanto? Leave your thoughts in the comments section, or tweet me @nataliepetitto.