A Public Resource Compiled by the

Bloomberg Family Foundation Inc

25 East 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
501c3 nonprofit

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

Key People

  • Mike Bloomberg, Founder
  • Patricia E. Harris, Chief Executive Officer
  • Maya Lin, Director, Board of Directors
  • Allison Jaffin, Manager of Operations

The Bloomberg Family Foundation, or Bloomberg Philanthropies, was founded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and “focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change,” including public health and the environment. The foundation doesn’t take a position on crop biotechnology, but it has contributed millions of dollars to environmental groups that campaign against the use of GMO crops and promote organic agriculture. These organizations include, the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Ceres Trust.

Bloomberg has contributed over $40 million to the Sierra Club, an environmental group that views crop biotechnology as a weapon of “mass destruction” and 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.”

NRDC, which has received nearly $2 million from Bloomberg since 2012, has long been a critic of crop biotechnology. The group claims that the herbicide glyphosate (Roundup), often paired with GMO crops, is carcinogenic, though most experts disagree with this assertion. NRDC maintains that Bayer and other biotech companies use “tobacco-industry tactics” to silence researchers who challenge glyphosate’s safety. More broadly, NRDC argues that “GMO use in the United States has mostly contributed to chemical-dependent monocultures, resulting in skyrocketing herbicide use ….” Artist and environmental activist Maya Lin, a member of NRDC’s  board of trustees, also sits on Bloomberg’s board of directors. Bloomberg has also contributed $316,000 to the Ceres Trust, a private foundation that funds anti-GMO activism and believes the “use of genetically engineered crops has resulted in unprecedented corporate ownership of agricultural systems, with seeds increasingly controlled by multinational corporations.”

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $177,097,351 (2016)

Total Assets: 7,850,216,969 (2016)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Sierra Club Foundation $41,000,000

Natural Resources Defense Council $1,763,900

Ceres Trust $316,000

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Note that there are three “levels” of both donors and recipients.

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

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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