Founded in 1986 as a private, non-operating charitable institution, the Marisla Foundation donates millions of dollars annually to “the search for solutions to health and environmental threats caused by toxic chemicals.” Many of these funds go to progressive political groups like the Center for American Progress (CAP) and several environmental nonprofits that publicly oppose the use of biotechnology in agriculture.
The Marisla Foundation has contributed over $100,000 to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). The OCA said in September 2018 that it supports a ban on glyphosate, an herbicide often paired with GMO crops, because consumers deserve “a poison-free environment [and] pesticide-free food.” OCA also provided the initial financing to establish U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), an anti-GMO advocacy group that posts the emails of biotech researchers online and alleges they are paid by Monsanto to cover up the dangers of GMOs.
Environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has received $3.5 million from the Marisla Foundation, shares this conspiratorial view of the biotech industry. In May 2018, NRDC senior scientist Jennifer Sass argued that “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pesticide office continues to side with Monsanto’s interests to protect glyphosate-based herbicide products like Roundup.” Sass has previously accused pesticide manufacturers of producing “biased or even bad science,” and described regulators at the EPA as “Monsanto Mouthpieces” in February 2018.
The Center for American Progress (CAP) has received $6 million in total donations from the Marisla Foundation and claimed in May 2018 that “big business rules American agriculture.” Dissatisfied with this alleged corporate influence on US farming, CAP has lobbied the federal government to subsidize organic agriculture and argued that organic food offers nutritional benefits over conventionally-produced food, though there is little evidence to support this assertion. The Marisla Foundation grant recipient has also lamented the development GMO AquAdvantage salmon, which began reaching Canadian consumers in 2018. CAP argued in 2015, following the lead of fellow Marisla grant recipient EarthJustice, that the genetically modified fish presents “a slew of environmental concerns,” including the possibility of “the fast-growing salmon escaping into the wild and out-competing native populations.”
Annual Revenue: $51,396,549 (2015)
Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)
Center for American Progress $6,000,000
Natural Resources Defense Council $3,500,000
Environmental Working Group $1,800,000
Kitchen Table Campaigns $850,000
Pesticide Action Network $810,000
Center for International Environmental Law $650,000
Trust for Conservation Innovation $580,000
Earth Island Institute $430,000
Center for Food Safety $350,000
Sierra Club $300,000
Center for Biological Diversity $260,000
Beyond Pesticides $170,000
Organic Consumers Association $120,000