A Public Resource Compiled by the

Friends of the Earth

1101 15th Street NW, 11th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
501c3 nonprofit

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

Key People

  • Erich Pica, President
  • Liz Butler, Vice President of Organizing and Strategic Alliances
  • Michelle Chan Vice President of Programs
  • Lisa Archer, Food and Agriculture Program Director

Friends of the Earth (FOE) is a Washington DC-based environmental nonprofit that claims “corporate power and agriculture science” have “created a powerful river of toxic, energy-intensive factory farming.” GMOs are partly to blame for this trend because “emerging biotechnologies are used to develop products that benefit companies’ bottom lines at the expense of people and the planet.”

To counter these advances in modern farming, FOE opposes the use of several technologies that experts say are necessary to increase crop yields. Gene editing, for instance, which allows scientists to make specific changes to a plant’s DNA, could cause “genetic havoc,” FOE says. Similarly, the organization pressures US grocery stores “to step up and protect bees!” by refusing to sell “food produced with bee-killing pesticides,” like neonicotinoids and glyphosate. Since most crops are treated with glyphosate, neonicotinoids or both, the campaign is meant to push grocers to offer more organic foods. None of these chemicals pose a risk to bees, experts say.

Like other prominent environmental nonprofits, FOE has deep ties to anti-GMO advocacy groups. Arlie Schardt, founder and director of Environmental Media Services (EMS), is Chair of FOE’s board of directors. EMS is the sister organization of Fenton Communications, the public relations firm that worked with Natural Resources Defense Council to foment the Alar cancer scare in 1989, which turned out to be unjustified. Schardt previously served as executive director of Environmental Defense Fund as well. Whitey Bluestein, also an FOE board member, previously served as executive director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit that believes the USDA’s GMO labeling rule is “a sham.”

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $13,022,023 (2017)

Total Assets $11,091,183 (2017)

Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)

Foundation for the Carolinas $5,000,000

Packard Foundation $600,000

Charles Stewart Mott Foundation $500,000

Greater Kansas City Community Foundation $420,000

Ford Foundation $328,500

Rockefeller Brothers Fund $300,000

Silicon Valley Community Foundation $300,000

Gould Family Foundation $290,000

The Ceres Trust $270,000

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation $250,000

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.

Share via

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
Send this to a friend