A Public Resource Compiled by the

Tomkat Charitable Trust

Also including Tomkat Foundation and Tomkat Ranch Educational Foundation
111 Sutter Street 10th Floor San Francisco, CA 94104
501c3 nonprofit
Tomkatfoundation.org

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

Key People

  • Tom Steyer, Co-Founder
  • Kathryn Taylor, Co-Founder
  • Kevin Watt, Strategic Initiatives and Policy Manager
  • Kathy Webster, Education and Outreach Director

Tomkat Charitable Trust

Established by progressive political activist and billionaire investor Tom Steyer in 2009, the Tomkat Foundation  “creates and partners with innovative organizations that envision a world with climate stability [and] a healthy and just food system.” As part of its effort to promote “sustainable agriculture,” the foundation has donated approximately $8 million to prominent anti-GMO advocacy groups.

Tomkat grant recipient Organic Voices operates the Just Label It! campaign, an organic industry group that warns about the alleged dangers of GMO crops. Just Label it argues that engineering crops to tolerate chemicals like the weed killer glyphosate leads “…. to a dangerous, toxic deadend.” Organic Voices also finances the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit that claims glyphosate is carcinogenic and widespread in America’s food supply. “EWG’s [August 2018] report …. highlights the serious public health risks glyphosate poses to every American, especially our kids,” Organic Voices co-founder Gary Hirshberg said after EWG’s report was released. Experts do not share these concerns about the weed killer.

Steyer himself celebrated an August 2018 jury verdict against Monsanto, which awarded a San Francisco man $289 million because Roundup allegedly caused his cancer. “The people strike back against an arrogant and polluting corporation,” Steyer wrote of the decision on Twitter. “Thank goodness for the jury system.”

Tomkat has also donated $2 million to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a public health nonprofit that believes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “fell in behind Monsanto” because the agency refuses to ban certain pesticides. NRDC also alleges that mainstream media outlets like Reuters are complicit in this conspiracy because they repeat “Monsanto talking points.” NRDC relies on the work of U.S. Right to Know, a group established with seed money from the Organic Consumers Association, to justify these assertions.

The Tides Center, an offshoot of the progressive political charity Tides Foundation, has received over $1 million from the Tomkat Foundation. Tides in turn donates to Greenpeace, Sierra Club and other anti-GMO advocacy groups as part of its effort to support organizations that share its political goals. Greenpeace has been one of the most significant critics of crop biotechnology for 20 years, claiming that recent innovations like CRISPR gene editing cause “unexpected and unpredictable effects on the environment, and human and animal health.” The Sierra Club similarly refers to crop biotechnology as a weapon of “mass destruction.”

Financial Data

 

Annual Revenue: $961,133 (2016)

Total Assets 60,495,312 (2016)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Natural Resources Defense Council $2,000,000

Tides Center $1,050,000

Center for Ecoliteracy $1,040,000

EcoTrust $850,000

Environmental Defense Fund $1,000,000

Union of Concerned Scientists $500,000

350.org $500,000

Center for Food Safety $350,000

Sustainable Food Alliance $250,000

Trust for Conservation Innovation $125,000

Organic Voices $100,000

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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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