The Sierra Club, founded in 1892 by conservationist John Muir, is one of the oldest and most prominent environmental groups in the U.S. With annual revenue approaching $78 million, the Sierra Club advocates for resource preservation, rapid transition away from fossil fuels and criticizes the use of biotechnology in agriculture.
In 1960, the Sierra Club established a foundation with the same name because the nonprofit’s tax-deductible status was jeopardized by its political lobbying. “The Sierra Club Foundation became the Sierra Club’s fiscal sponsor with the ability to solicit tax-deductible charitable contributions and make grants for public education and related charitable activities,” the foundation’s website says.
As of September 2018, Sierra Club’s official position statement on crop biotechnology lists genetic engineering, including new gene-editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, as “weapons of mass destruction.” Although most experts agree that genetic engineering has boosted crop yields significantly while cutting pesticide use, Sierra Club also says in its 2018 agriculture position statement that “genetically engineered crops have failed to provide promised increased productivity, resistance to drought and disease, and reduction in pesticide use.”
In its push for mandatory GMO food labels, the Sierra Club has expressed support for organic industry efforts to harass biotech researchers who speak to the public about genetic engineering. Citing the work of U.S. Right to Know, an activist group that accuses academics of colluding with Monsanto, Sierra Club claims that “adequate long-term and cumulative analysis [of GMOs] continues to be lacking, mostly because that’s how the corporations want it.” U.S. Right to Know has defended the environmental group in turn, alleging in July 2018 that Sierra Club was targeted by “Monsanto PR operatives.”
Annual Revenue: $77,298,018 (2016)
Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)
Bloomberg Family Foundation $41,000,000
Foundation for the Carolinas $19,509,000
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation 10,000,000
Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment $7,000,000
The Energy Foundation $3,371,000
New Venture Fund 1,175,000
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation $1,460,000
Schmidt Family Foundation 1,250,000
Central Indiana Community Foundation $1,250,000
Proteus Fund Inc $1,127,000
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.