A Public Resource Compiled by the

Chicago Community Trust

225 North Michigan Avenue Suite 2200
Chicago IL 60601
501c3 nonprofit
CCT.org

Donor to anti-GMO organizations as part of a broader philanthropic strategy

Key People

  • Linda S. Wolf, Chair
  • Mary B. Richardson-Lowry, Vice-Chair
  • Carol Lavin Bernick, Executive Committee 
  • Leslie Bluhm, Executive Committee

Chicago Community Trust

Chicago Community Trust (CCT) is an Illinois-based community foundation that works to address poverty, homelessness, violence and food security at the local level. Although it takes no official position on crop biotechnology, CCT contributes significant sums to anti-GMO causes primarily through donor-advised grants to environmental activist groups.

Since 2012, CCT has donated more than $24 million to the Tides Center, an organization that helps establish progressive political nonprofit groups. The Tides Center is an offshoot of the Tides Foundation, a substantial donor to anti-GMO activism. The Tides foundation has given at least $100,000 each to several prominent anti-crop biotechnology NGOs, including Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

NRDC has played a prominent role in the campaign against the weed killer glyphosate, developed by Monsanto and often paired with GMO crops. In 2019, NRDC alleged that the herbicide causes cancer and the US Environmental Protection Agency colluded with Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) to conceal this fact from the public. Greenpeace, meanwhile, has been a staunch opponent of genetic engineering for more than 20 years, and continues to campaign against the use gene-editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, especially in Europe. “Releasing these new GMOs into the environment without proper safety measures is illegal and irresponsible,” Greenpeace claimed in July 2018, “particularly given that gene editing can lead to unintended side effects.”

According to its most recent (2017) tax documents, CCT continues to support Tides ($8,205,000), and donates directly to the Natural Resources Defense Council ($357,000) and  Greenpeace ($24,750). CCT also contributed $275,000 to the Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) in 2017, a nonprofit that “builds sustainable local food and farm systems.” AOLC hosted prominent anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva in April 2014, who has compared genetic engineering to rape and says “GMO” stands for “God move over.” The nonprofit also participated in the 2015 Farm Aid concert, whose organizers belive biotech seed companies wield “unbridled power” and “increasing political influence over the rules that govern our food system.”

Financial Data

 

Annual Revenue: $414,482,436 (2018)

Total Assets:$3,247,965,573 (2018)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Tides Center $24,032,000

Food and Water Watch 1,150,000

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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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