A Public Resource Compiled by the

Environmental Working Group

1436 U St. NW Suite 100 Washington, DC 20009
501c3 nonprofit

Recipient: Focus on climate change, air pollution and biotech-related topics

Key People

  • Ken Cook, Co-Founder, President
  • Scott Faber, Vice President of Government Affairs
  • Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources
  • Scott Mallan, Vice President, Finance & Chief Operating Officer
  • Bill Walker, Vice President and Editor in Chief

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a public health advocacy nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C. The organization lobbies to curb climate change, pollution and synthetic pesticide use in agriculture. EWG is best known for its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that, EWG says, are contaminated with unsafe levels of pesticide residues. Experts have criticized EWG for setting artificially low levels for pesticide exposure and unnecessarily scaring the public about the risks associated with consuming conventionally farmed produce.

In August 2018, EWG released a report warning parents that they may be serving their children breakfast “with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison.” The report alleged that popular breakfast foods contained potentially dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, a chemical commonly paired with GMO crops. EWG was criticized by experts for exaggerating the risks posed by the miniscule amounts of glyphosate found in the food supply.

With a yearly budget over $10 million, EWG is one of the wealthiest environmental groups in the U.S. EWG is financed by large nonprofit foundations and organic food companies. The organics industry finances EWG through a trade organization called Organic Voices Action Fund (OVAF). OVAF is “…. a nonprofit (c)(4) organization …. funded by more than 20 companies, including Stonyfield, Earthbound Farm, Organic Valley, Nature’s Path and Annie’s,” according to EWG’s website. OVAF operates the Just Label It campaign, and EWG president and co-founder Ken Cook sits on OVAF’s board of directors. The money from OVAF is dedicated to highlighting “…. the benefits of organic food and [advancing] the fight for labeling food that contains genetically engineered ingredients.”

 Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $10,412,044 (2017)

Total Assets $6,859,370 (2017)

Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)

Foundation for the Carolinas $4,600,000

Popplestone Foundation $2,900,000

Marisla Foundation: $900,000

Silicon Valley Foundation $869,500

Walton Family Foundation: $810,000

David and Lucile Packard Foundation: $550,000

JPB Foundation $500,000

Winslow Foundation: $425,000

Caldwell-Fisher Charitable Foundation: $300,000

Wallace Genetic Foundation: $300,000

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.

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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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