A Public Resource Compiled by the

Center for Food Safety

660 Pennsylvania Ave, SE, #402
Washington, DC 20003
501c3 nonprofit
CenterforFoodSafety.org

Recipient: Focus on food safety and biotech-related topics

Key People

  • Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director
  • George Kimbrell, Legal Director
  • Ashley Lukens, Director, Hawaii Center for Food Safety
  • Margaret Mellon, Science Consultant

Center for Food Safety

Founded by lawyer Andrew Kimbrell and Organic Consumers Association (OCA) director Ronnie Cummins in 1999, The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is an anti-GMO advocacy group that lobbies against “the use of harmful food production technologies …. by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.”

CFS argues “that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to farmers, human health, …. and the environment,” and campaigns for restrictions on crop biotechnology. In July 2018, for example, the group unsuccessfully sued the Trump Administration to force the release of documents related to the USDA’s GMO labeling rules. George Kimbrell, legal director at Center for Food Safety, claimed that the failed lawsuit was proof that “this Administration has reached new lows in trying to keep information from the American public.” Alongside environmental group Food & Water Watch, CFS sued the U.S. Department of Commerce in September 2018 to block “industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters.” Aquaculture is a sustainable method of cultivating and farming fish.

CFS maintains close relationships with other anti-GMO advocacy groups and has recruited staff members from these organizations. CFS science policy analyst Bill Freese was employed by Friends of Earth for six years. Former Union of Concerned Scientists scholar Margaret Mellon is now a consultant to CFS, advising the organization on technical issues related to crop biotechnology. Randy Hayes, founder and former president of Rainforest Action Network, sits on CFS’ board of directors.

CFS also operates the Cornerstone Campaign  (CSC), a nonprofit established in 2002 to address “issues associated with the use of biotechnology in agriculture.” CFS is also the largest donor to CSC, contributing over $500,000 since 2012. CSC is housed within, wholly controlled and led by CFS, but they do not disclose that relationship on their tax returns.

CFS also funds other anti-GMO advocacy groups through CSC, including the Consumers Union. The well-known consumer protection group’s senior scientist Michael Hansen maintains that there is “ no consensus” on the safety of GMO crops. In a 2015 report co-authored with Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Action Network, Consumers Union claimed that the “scientific consensus on GMOs frequently repeated in the media is ‘an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated ….’”

 

Financial Data

 

Annual Revenue: $4,641,510 (2016)

Total Assets $848,943 (2016)

Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)

The Ceres Trust $1,838,289

Schmidt Family Foundation $725,000

William Zimmerman Foundation $650,000

Cornerstone Campaign $505,000

David B. Gold Foundation $450,000

Tomkat Charitable Trust $350,000

Marisla Foundation $175,000

Firedoll Foundation $80,000

Wallace Genetic Foundation $75,000

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.

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Note that there are three “levels” of both donors and recipients.

Donors
Donations to advocacy groups are sometimes designated to support a specific cause, such as organic agriculture or mitigating climate change. There is no way for us to know from publicly-available documents on what the money will be spent, as we can only see the total amount donated. When we assign the levels below to donors and recipients, we assume that all donations are available to the recipient for all advocacy, including anti-GMO advocacy.

  • Level 1: Donates primarily to dedicated anti-GMO organizations
  • Level 2: A large portion of donations go to anti-GMO organizations; some donations go to organizations without a position on GMOs
  • Level 3: A small portion of donations go to anti-GMO organizations
    * Most donations go to organizations without a formal position on GMOs but which have aligned themselves with anti-GMO activists

Recipients
For Level 1 recipients, all donations are used for anti-GMO advocacy. For Level 2 and 3 recipients, we don’t know how much of each donation is used for anti-GMO advocacy.

  • Level 1: Dedicated to anti-GMO advocacy
  • Level 2: Involved in anti-GMO advocacy along with other causes
  • Level 3: No specific anti-GMO advocacy, but general support
    * Organizations without a formal position on GMOs but which have aligned themselves with anti-GMO activists
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