Established by Warren Buffett’s son Peter in 2006 with a donation of 350,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock, the NoVo Foundation “is dedicated to catalyzing a transformation in global society.” The nonprofit primarily focuses on women’s rights issues, but maintains ties to several organizations who lobby against crop biotechnology.
NoVo Foundation senior director Gary D. Schwartz was employed by the Tides Foundation for 15 years. Tides is a progressive political nonprofit that takes a hardline stance against agricultural biotechnology, and has received $57 million from NoVo since 2014. Tides wrote in a 2015 report, for instance, that “corporate land grabs, patented seeds, and pro-GMO policies” represent “threats” to rural agriculture in the developing world. Tides has also invested in several high-profile anti-GMO advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Sierra Club lobbies for a complete ban on crop biotechnology, arguing that recent innovations like gene-edited crops are “weapons of mass destruction.” NRDC believes the biotech firm Bayer is “the worst” and asserts the company “follows the playbook of the tobacco industry” in denying the alleged health effects of its herbicide-resistant GMO seeds. In August 2018, Greenpeace similarly urged governments “to ban toxic pesticides” including Bayer’s herbicide glyphosate. Such a move would “strike the company where it really hurts: its profits,” Greenpeace claims. Unlike cigarettes, most experts believe Bayer’s agricultural products are safe when used as directed by regulators like the EPA.
The NoVo Foundation purchased the 1255-acre Hudson Valley Farm Hub in New York for $13 million in 2013, and committed another $20 million to turn the property into an independent nonprofit. Farm Hub director Anu Rangarajan made it clear that there would be “no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the crops at the Hudson Valley Farm Hub.”
Annual Revenue: $256,713,414 (2016)
Major Recipients (total contributions 2014-present)
The Tides Foundation $57,407,685