Founded by Jeffery Smith in 2003, The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) bills itself as “the most comprehensive source of GMO health information on the web.” IRT describes Smith as an international best-selling author, speaker and “GMO expert.” Though he holds no degree in any relevant scientific field and has a background as a dance instructor, Smith alleged in 2017 that consuming foods made from GMO crops increases the risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV and catching the common cold.
Beyond promoting Smith’s unsupported scientific claims, IRT maintains that there is a “big GMO cover up in progress, led by a chemical industry that is “spinning science and silencing scientists.” IRT fights this “cover up” by taking its message about the dangers of GMOs directly to the public. The institute, for example, collaborated with the Non-GMO Project to produce a non-GMO shopping guide to encourage consumers to purchase organic products, specifically those certified by the Non-GMO Project. Smith helped establish the project alongside several organic food companies and high-level anti-GMO campaigners in 2006, including Craig Winters, founder of the “Campaign for Labeling Genetically Engineered Foods.” Smith describes Winters as a “Non-GMO Hero.”
IRT doesn’t disclose all of its donors, though it has acknowledged support from various “sponsors” from the organic food and natural health industries. These include companies like Nature’s Path Organic, Organic Valley and alternative medicine proponent Joe Mercola, who also donated nearly $900,000 to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) in 2016 alone. OCA is a key Donor to U.S. Right to Know, an anti-GMO group that attacks academics who defend biotechnology and engage in public science outreach.
Alongside Smith, IRT’s leadership team includes James Turner, an attorney and lobbyist for the herbal supplements industry; Ed Malloy, president of Fairfield Organics, and Ed Ferguson, an executive coach and transcendental meditation instructor. Malloy and Ferguson, like Smith, are affiliated with the Maharishi religious movement, an organization that believes its adherents can influence world events with meditation.
Annual Revenue: $349,694 (2016)
Total Assets $147,940 (2016)
Major Donors (total contributions 2012 – Present)
Bet Lev Foundation $150,000
Robert P. Rotella Foundation $95,000
Hawley Family Foundation $80,000
Vanguard Charitable Endowment $75,000
Gardner Grout Foundation $30,000
Aurora Foundation $25,000
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.