A Public Resource Compiled by the

Christensen Fund

487 Bryant Street, 2nd Floorbr> San Francisco, CA 94107 USA
501c3 nonprofit

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

Key People

  • Diane Christensen, President
  • Sanjay Bavikatte, Executive Director Biocultural Landscapes
  • China Ching, Director of Grantmaking
  • Kyra Busch, Agrobiodiversity and Resilient

The Christensen Fund (CF) is a private foundation established in 1957 that “believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty.” The foundation promotes “agrobiodiversity and food Sovereignty” as part of its work and seeks to “advance and mainstream agroecological, sustainable and resilient approaches to food and agriculture.” CF claims that GMOs are part of  “a green sheen on a corporate agenda” that uses climate change as a pretext to profit. As a result, CF supports private foundations and environmental groups that campaign against crop biotechnology.

Since 2012, Christensen Fund has contributed $455,500 to another private foundation called the New Venture Fund, which administers donations given to the AgroEcology Fund (AEF). AEF argues that “banning genetically modified (GM) seeds illustrates a “commitment to food sovereignty,” because “corporate GMO seeds” rob smallholder farmers of the right “to retain control over their seeds.” CF is one of four founding donors to AEF, alongside the New Field Foundation, the Swift Foundation and one other anonymous foundation. Since its founding in 2012, AEF has contributed “$4.03 million to …. 202 organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the USA” to promote agroecology.

The nonprofit Slow Food has received $213,000 from CF in the last eight years, and fights “to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions.” The organization opposes agricultural biotechnology as part of its fight because GMO crops allow “a few multinational companies …. to control the entire GM food chain – from research to breeding to commercialization of seeds.” Slow Food adds that “[p]atenting genetic material has shifted the balance of economic power towards big business in their aggressive pursuit of profit.” The nonprofit maintains relationships with other prominent advocacy groups, too. Slow Food has collaborated with the environmental group Greenpeace, for example, in its efforts to stop GMOs from  “transforming our food into a patented commodity controlled by a few multinationals …..”  The Christensen Fund grantee has also partnered with Friends of the Earth, Consumer Reports and Food and Water Watch to attack beef producers for allegedly misusing antibiotics and failing to protect the environment, all while “greenwashing” the impact of their farming operations.

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $12,455,957 (2017)

Total Assets: 307,789,677 (2017)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Kivulini Trust $580,600

New Venture Fund $455,500

Zan va Zamin $430,000

Natural Justice – Lawyers for Communities and the Environment $282,000

Culture and Art Society of Ethiopia $220,000

Earth Island Institute $220,000

Biodiversity International $300,000

Slow Food $213,000

Rudolf Steiner Foundation, dba RSF Social Finance $140,000

Indigenous Information Network $75,000

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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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