Founded in 1981 as the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides, Beyond Pesticides works “to lead the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides.” The organization is closely connected to the organic food industry and opposes crop biotechnology, arguing that the use of GMO crops, many of which are engineered to tolerate pesticides, is “short sighted and dangerous.” Beyond pesticides further contends that “increased planting of herbicide-resistant GE crops has led to …. ‘super weeds,’ and the destruction of pollinator habitat.”
Melinda Hemmelgarn, an “investigative” nutritionist and consultant to the organic industry, sits on Beyond Pesticide’s board of directors. Hemmelgarn is a member of the “A Team of Commentators, Strategists and Influencers” organic food companies rely on to promote their products in the public square. Emails released following a 2015 open records request revealed that Hemmelgarn was asked to amplify an industry-funded study suggesting that organic milk is nutritionally superior to milk produced by conventional dairies. Hemmelgarn didn’t disclose this consultancy relationship until December 2017, after she was pressed to do so.
Beyond Pesticides opposes the use of genetic engineering even when the technology doesn’t involve pesticides. In August 2018, the group urged the USDA to classify gene-edited crops, developed with plant breeding techniques like CRISPR/Cas9, as GMOs, claiming “that failing to classify [gene editing] as genetic engineering is a backdoor way of allowing GMOs without labeling them as such.”
Beyond Pesticides has also partnered with other anti-GMO advocacy groups to lobby for bans on crop biotechnology and related pesticides. BP supported Greenpeace’s effort to ban the synthetic weed killer glyphosate in Europe in 2018, and pushed for similar restrictions in the U.S. “While federal oversight and regulation lag behind, environmental groups …. are urging localities to restrict or ban the use of glyphosate and other unnecessary toxic pesticides,” Beyond Pesticides argued in an August 2018 blog post.
Similarly, in September 2018, GMO Free USA, Organic Consumers Association and Beyond Pesticides sued Pret A Manger restaurant chain for advertising some of its products as “natural” when they contained trace amounts of glyphosate. “Consumers expect Pret’s food to be free of synthetic pesticides, including glyphosate,” Diana Reeves, executive director of GMO Free USA, said of the lawsuit. “Glyphosate …. is linked to adverse health effects including cancer, infertility and non-alcoholic fatty liver and kidney diseases …. a company that willfully misrepresents its products needs to be held accountable.”
Annual Revenue: $1,173,313 (2017)
Total Assets: 1,467,521 (2017)
Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)
Ceres Trust $1,230,000
Wallace Genetic Foundation $300,000
Cornell Douglas Foundation $230,000
Marisla Foundation $170,000
Elyse Meredith Roberts and Raymond John Roberts Charitable Foundation $160,000
Firedoll Foundation $45,000
Cedar Tree Foundation $60,000
Park Foundation $40,000
Bancroft Foundation $27,500
Contribution totals only reflect publicly reported donors and may not include significant contributions from corporations, litigators and governments, domestic and foreign, through percent of sales agreements and allocations through various arrangements such as state lotteries and aid programs. Many claims by nonprofit organizations that they receive no contributions from governments or corporations are misleading or false.