A Public Resource Compiled by the

Natural Resources Defense Council

40 West 20th Street 11th floor New York, NY 10011
501c3 nonprofit

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

Key People

  • Rhea Suh, President
  • Mitchell Bernard, Chief Counsel
  • Steve Baginski, Chief Financial Officer
  • Jennifer Sass, Senior Scientist
Natural Resources Defense Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an environmental nonprofit headquartered in New York City. The organization focuses much of its attention on climate change and pollution, but NRDC also maintains a public stance against crop biotechnology, arguing that Americans can’t get information on GMO foods because biotech companies “have a stranglehold” on the federal agencies that protect our food supply. NRDC has also sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to block the introduction of GMO crops.

NRDC collaborates with prominent individuals in the anti-GMO movement, as well. The nonprofit worked with environmental journalist Paul Thacker, for instance, to draft its policy on financial conflicts of interest. In a May 2016 interview with Carey Gillam, director of research at the anti-GMO group U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), Thacker credited USRTK for exposing “…. cozy ties between …. seemingly independent scientists and the biotech industry.” The scientific community has challenged the assertion that USRTK uncovered anything unethical, noting that public researchers frequently collaborate with industry.

NRDC has similarly alleged that Monsanto and the EPA “had a disturbing level of communication and collaboration” while the federal agency was reviewing Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. However, the EPA’s evaluation of glyphosate matches the consensus view of experts around the world.

During a February 2018 congressional hearing, NRDC senior scientist Jennifer Sass defended the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) against accusations of corruption. The agency’s critics said IARC deliberately excluded data from its review of glyphosate, which made the herbicide look more dangerous than it is. Evidence from independent news reports and court documents suggested that IARC’s report was unduly influenced by anti-GMO advocates. As a result, The U.S. Congress attempted cut funding to IARC in August 2018. Sass said the criticisms that later led to scrutiny of IARC were “…. largely sponsored and coordinated by the agrochemical industry…”

 Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $190,397,688 (2018)

Total Assets $414,196,299 (2018)

Major Donors (total contributions 2012-present)

Foundation for the Carolinas $38,140,500

Energy Foundation $3,626,000

Ford Foundation $3,045,075

John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation $3,010,000

Marisla Foundation $3,000,000

Tomkat Charitable Trust $2,000,000

Bloomberg Family Foundation $1,763,900

David and Lucille Packard Foundation $1,250,000

Marty and Dorothy Silverman Foundation $1,085,000

Schmidt Family Foundation $1,000,000

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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