A Public Resource Compiled by the

Cloud Mountain Foundation

237 W 35TH ST STE 1001, NEW YORK, NY 10001
501c3 nonprofit

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

Key People

  • Benjamin Friedman, President
  • Sarah Stranahan, Grant-Making Consultant

The Cloud Mountain Foundation is a New York-based private foundation. Cloud Mountain shares little information about itself publicly and has only two staff member, but its financial filings indicate that the foundation supports political and environmental organizations that oppose agricultural biotechnology.

The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a political activist group that has received over $500,000 from Cloud Mountain since 2012, works closely with organic-industry groups to challenge the scientific consensus around GMO crop safety, including the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Jill Richardson, a policy advisor to OCA, is also a contributor to Source Watch, a wiki site published by CMD that tracks conservative activists who “manipulate public opinion on behalf of corporations ….”

OCA provided the initial funding to establish the anti-GMO group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK). USRTK works alongside law firms suing Bayer, alleging the chemical company’s herbicide Roundup causes cancer. USRTK archived internal company documents called the “Monsanto Papers” (Bayer owns Monsanto) which prove, USRTK claims, that Monsanto knew for years that Roundup is carcinogenic. Lisa Graves, CMD’s founder, also sits on USRTK’s board of directors.

Cloud Mountain has donated $50,000 to Food and Water Watch, an environmental group that lobbies the USDA to end field trials of GMO crops. Food and Water Watch says “the generous support from the Park Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, Tides Foundation …. and the Cloud Mountain Foundation” makes it possible to “fight back against the seemingly unlimited funds of the agribusiness industry.” In total, Cloud Mountain has given more than $4 million to Food and Water Watch, CMD and related anti-GMO groups.

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $1,143,397 (2016)

Total Assets: 3,974,3161(2016)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Center for Media and Democracy $603,300

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund $525,000

Center for Environmental Health and Justice $449,500

Science and Environmental Health Network $430,000

TruthOut $170,000

Clean Production Action $75,000

Sustainable Markets Foundation $135,000

Clean Water Fund $80,000

Food and Water Watch $50,000

Earth Island Institute $40,000

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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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