The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a public health advocacy nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C. The organization lobbies to curb climate change, pollution and synthetic pesticide use in agriculture. EWG is best known for its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that, EWG says, are contaminated with unsafe levels of pesticide residues. Experts have criticized EWG for setting artificially low levels for pesticide exposure and unnecessarily scaring the public about the risks associated with consuming conventionally farmed produce.
In August 2018, EWG released a report warning parents that they may be serving their children breakfast “with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison.” The report alleged that popular breakfast foods contained potentially dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, a chemical commonly paired with GMO crops. EWG was criticized by experts for exaggerating the risks posed by the miniscule amounts of glyphosate found in the food supply.
With a yearly budget over $10 million, EWG is one of the wealthiest environmental groups in the U.S. EWG is financed by large nonprofit foundations and organic food companies. The organics industry finances EWG through a trade organization called Organic Voices Action Fund (OVAF). OVAF is “…. a nonprofit (c)(4) organization …. funded by more than 20 companies, including Stonyfield, Earthbound Farm, Organic Valley, Nature’s Path and Annie’s,” according to EWG’s website. OVAF operates the Just Label It campaign, and EWG president and co-founder Ken Cook sits on OVAF’s board of directors. The money from OVAF is dedicated to highlighting “…. the benefits of organic food and [advancing] the fight for labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.”
Annual Revenue: $10,412,044 (2017)
Total Assets $6,859,370 (2017)
Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)
Foundation for the Carolinas $4,600,000
Popplestone Foundation $2,900,000
Marisla Foundation: $900,000
Silicon Valley Foundation $869,500
Walton Family Foundation: $810,000
David and Lucile Packard Foundation: $550,000
JPB Foundation $500,000
Winslow Foundation: $425,000
Caldwell-Fisher Charitable Foundation: $300,000
Wallace Genetic Foundation: $300,000
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.