Founded by lawyer Andrew Kimbrell and Organic Consumers Association (OCA) director Ronnie Cummins in 1999, The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is an anti-GMO advocacy group that lobbies against “the use of harmful food production technologies …. by promoting organic and other forms of sustainable agriculture.”
CFS argues “that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to farmers, human health, …. and the environment,” and campaigns for restrictions on crop biotechnology. In July 2018, for example, the group unsuccessfully sued the Trump Administration to force the release of documents related to the USDA’s GMO labeling rules. George Kimbrell, legal director at Center for Food Safety, claimed that the failed lawsuit was proof that “this Administration has reached new lows in trying to keep information from the American public.” Alongside environmental group Food & Water Watch, CFS sued the U.S. Department of Commerce in September 2018 to block “industrial aquaculture offshore in U.S. federal waters.” Aquaculture is a sustainable method of cultivating and farming fish.
CFS maintains close relationships with other anti-GMO advocacy groups and has recruited staff members from these organizations. CFS science policy analyst Bill Freese was employed by Friends of Earth for six years. Former Union of Concerned Scientists scholar Margaret Mellon is now a consultant to CFS, advising the organization on technical issues related to crop biotechnology. Randy Hayes, founder and former president of Rainforest Action Network, sits on CFS’ board of directors.
CFS also operates the Cornerstone Campaign (CSC), a nonprofit established in 2002 to address “issues associated with the use of biotechnology in agriculture.” CFS is also the largest donor to CSC, contributing over $500,000 since 2012. CSC is housed within, wholly controlled and led by CFS, but they do not disclose that relationship on their tax returns.
CFS also funds other anti-GMO advocacy groups through CSC, including the Consumers Union. The well-known consumer protection group’s senior scientist Michael Hansen maintains that there is “ no consensus” on the safety of GMO crops. In a 2015 report co-authored with Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Action Network, Consumers Union claimed that the “scientific consensus on GMOs frequently repeated in the media is ‘an artificial construct that has been falsely perpetuated ….’”
Annual Revenue: $4,641,510 (2016)
Total Assets $848,943 (2016)
Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)
The Ceres Trust $1,838,289
Schmidt Family Foundation $725,000
William Zimmerman Foundation $650,000
Cornerstone Campaign $505,000
David B. Gold Foundation $450,000
Tomkat Charitable Trust $350,000
Marisla Foundation $175,000
Firedoll Foundation $80,000
Wallace Genetic Foundation $75,000
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.