Politics

Our research into a company's politics is divided into 4 main areas: 

  • controversial technologies
  • anti-social finance
  • boycott calls
  • political activity

Politics Categories

Ethical Consumer is creating a new category called Controversial Technologies. This category will bring together three areas we already rate companies under: Nuclear Power, Genetic Engineering and Nanotechnology

While some argue that all three technologies pose risks to humans and the environment, for others the issues are less of a concern. Subscribers will be able to click on the dots on the expanded product tables to read more detail about what a particular company is being criticised for.

Under Nuclear Power, companies will be marked down for being involved in managing nuclear power plants or providing services to the nuclear power industry. Those energy companies where more than 5% of their energy mix comes from nuclear power will also lose marks under this category.

Under Genetic Engineering, companies will be marked down if they are involved in the manufacture or sale of non-medical products likely to contain GMOs (genetically modified organisms); lack of a clear company wide GMO free policy or publicly support the use of GMOs in non-medical products. Those involved in the following: the non-medical genetic modification of plants or animals; gene patenting; and xenotransplantation will also receive criticism under this category.

Nanotechnology is controversial because it remains unclear what long-term effects many nano-particles – used in a range of products from suncreams to tennis balls – will have on humans and the environment.

Controversial Technologies sub-categories

  • GE banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • GE company has been involved in cloning
  • GE False labelling/trading of genetically modified goods/ingredients
  • GE Funding of medical genetic modification of plants or animals
  • GE Funding of non-medical genetic modification of plants or animals
  • GE Growing GM crops
  • GE illegal or unauthorised release or use of GMOs
  • GE Information Only
  • GE Involvement in gene patenting
  • GE involvement in GM medical products criticised on ethical grounds
  • GE involvement in the non-medical GM of plants or animals
  • GE Involvement in xenotransplantation
  • GE Licensing relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • GE manufacture or sale of non-medical products involving or containing GMOs
  • GE Manufacture or sale of products likely to contain GMOs and the lack of a clear group-wide GMO free
  • GE No GM-free cotton policy in clothing sector company
  • GE No GMOs policy for own brand products
  • GE positive policy addressing a genetic engineering issue
  • GE Public defence/promotion of medical GM technology
  • GE public statements in favour of the use of GMOs in non-medical applications
  • GE Sale or production of animals or animal products with the use of GM animal feed
  • GE Secondary criticism
  • NP Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • NP Involved in construction, design, operating or provision of core services
  • NP Licensing relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • NP medical equipment/uses
  • NP membership of a nuclear power industry association
  • NP nuclear fuel - uranium mining or processing
  • NP nuclear fuel equipment
  • NP ownership of nuclear power stations
  • NP Positive policy addressing a nuclear power issue
  • NP Provision of other nuclear equipment eg monitoring / clothing
  • NP Releasing nuclear waste into the environment
  • NP secondary criticism
  • NP secondary criticism aggravated
  • NP Supplier of electricity where >5% comes from nuclear
  • NP transport of nuclear waste
  • NP waste handling, treatment or storage
  • NT Involvement in nanotechnology

Companies may have boycotts called against them for lots of different reasons. At Ethical Consumer, we report on all the boycotts we receive which have a registered headquarters, although we don't necessarily endorse them.

Some campaign groups think that boycotts aren't a good idea in case a company withdraws its business from a factory overseas as a result thus causing lots of workers to lose their jobs and livelihood. Others believe they can be very effective. We think it's up to you where you spend your money.

boycott call sub-categories

  • banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • Ongoing boycott of one subsidiary or brand
  • Boycott Call - now ceased
  • Ongoing boycott of the whole company group

We think that companies have too much influence over governments through lobby groups or donating to the parties themselves.

There are negative marks for companies that donate money to political parties, or companies involved in persuading governments and institutions, through international lobbying organisations, to change policy.

Political Activities sub-categories

  • Banking, investment or other financial services relationship with a company criticised in this category
  • Lobbying governments for contracts or policy changes
  • Bilderberg Group
  • Business Action for Sustainable Development
  • American Chamber of Commerce - AMCHAM-EU
  • Business Round Table
  • Transatlantic Business Dialogue
  • Trilateral Commision
  • European Round Table of Industrialists
  • European Services Forum
  • International Chamber of Commerce
  • US Coalition of Service Industries
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • World Economic Forum
  • member of free trade lobby group, other than those listed
  • Positive policy addressing a political activities issue
  • Recorded meetings with ministers 
  • Secondary criticism
  • Company has stated policy of not making political donations
  • Suppression of criticism for activities in EC categories by legal or political means
  • Donations to both left and right wing parties>£49,999 
  • Donations to both left and right wing political parties <£49,998
  • UK Conservative party <£50,000
  • UK Conservative party £50,000 or more 
  • UK Labour party <£50,000
  • UK Labour party £50,000 or more
  • US Republicans >$100,000
  • Less than £50,000 (or unknown amount) to any other political party
  • £50,000 or more to any other political party 
  • initiating NAFTA
  • Lobbying against legislation designed to correct abuses in other ECRA categories 
  • Lobbying against sound environmental policies 
  • Lobbying against sound environmental policies - aggravated
  • WTO lobbying
  • Worst / middle / Best Ethical Consumer rating for likely use of tax avoidance strategies