A Public Resource Compiled by the

Natural Health Research Foundation

3200 Higgins Road
Hoffman Estates, Il 60169
501c3 nonprofit
Mercola.com

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

Key People

  • Joseph Mercola, President
  • Steve Rye, CEO
  • James Larsen, Vice President
  • Amalia Legaspi, Secretary

Natural Health Research Foundation

Natural Health Research Foundation (NHRF) was founded by natural health advocate and alternative medicine blogger Joseph Mercola. Mercola is a critic of crop biotechnology and donor to anti-GMO groups including the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) Food Democracy Now and the Institute for Responsible Technology. There is little information available online about NHRF beyond its 990 tax forms, and it appears to exist only to donate large sums to these same organizations. Mercola appears to be NHRF’s sole donor as of 2016, through his company Mercola Health Resources. Since 2013, NHRF has donated nearly $3 million to OCA and other anti-GMO advocacy groups.

With money donated by NHRF and other private foundations, OCA provided seed money to the California-based nonprofit U.S. Right to Know (USRK). Since 2014, USRTK has filed open records requests against 40 agricultural scientists at US universities and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  USRTK alleges that the emails obtained through these requests “offer a rare look behind the scenes at how food and pesticide corporations are working …. with front groups, academics and other third parties to promote industry propaganda and lobby against transparency and safety regulations.”

Mercola uses these investigations to criticize GMO crops and pesticides to his online audience. “…. [T]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has in fact colluded with Monsanto …. by manipulating and preventing key investigations into glyphosate’s cancer-causing potential,” Mercola wrote in March 2017. “…. GMOs and the toxic chemicals used along with them pose a serious threat to the environment and our health,” Mercola added, “yet government agencies turn a blind eye …. They are furthering the interests of the biotech giants.” Mercola has also used USRTK’s work to urge his readers to donate to OCA directly.

Financial Data

 

Annual Revenue: $2,646,948 (2016)

Total Assets $1,841,327 (2016)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Organic Consumers Association $2,101,000

Food Democracy Now $121,000

American Environmental Health Studies Project $70,000

Institute for Responsible Technology $4,000

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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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