A Public Resource Compiled by the

Marisla Foundation

412 North Pacific Coast Highway PMB 359  Laguna Beach CA 92651
501c3 nonprofit
online.foundationsource.com/public/home/marisla

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

Key People

  • Anne Earhart, President
  • Sara Lowell, Director, Board Member
  • Oliver N. Crary, Treasurer
  • Peggy Lauer, Human Services Program Director

Marisla Foundation

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.”

Financial Data

 

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

Commonweal $2,050,000

Environmental Working Group $1,800,000

Kitchen Table Campaigns $850,000

Pesticide Action Network $810,000

EarthJustice $660,000

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

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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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