A Public Resource Compiled by the

Silicon Valley Community Foundation

440 West El Camino Real, Suite 300
Mountain View, California 94040-1498
501c3 nonprofit

Donor to anti-GMO organizations as part of larger philanthropic strategy

Key People

  • Greg Avis, Interim Chief Executive Officer and President
  • Misti Sangani, Chief Philanthropy Officer
  • Casey Kellogg, Vice President, Donor Engagement
  • Melany Duval, Vice President, Development

Formed in 2007, The Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) applies “visionary leadership [and] strategic grantmaking” to partner with donors and “strengthen the common good locally and throughout the world.” The foundation doesn’t take a public position on biotechnology, but its donors support “environmental organizations that are strengthening underserved and underrepresented voices,” many of which are nonprofits involved in anti-GMO advocacy.

Since 2012, SVCF has donated nearly $3 million to the Tides Center, an offshoot of the Tides Foundation and a major donor to anti-GMO advocacy. Tides claims that “corporate land grabs, patented seeds, and pro-GMO policies” represent “threats” to the developing world, and has contributed over $500,000 to environmental groups that share this view. These include the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council and Friends of the Earth, all of which oppose crop biotechnology. The Sierra Club, for instance, which has also received nearly $170,000 directly from SVCF, refers to gene-editing technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 as “weapons of mass destruction.”

Multiplier, formerly called the Trust for Conservation Innovation, is SVCF’s second biggest grant recipient behind Tides and operates the GMO Science Campaign. The campaign aims “to provide a public platform where genetically engineered (GE) crop and food impacts are openly discussed ….” GMO Science argues that herbicide-tolerant GMO crops are behind “a hidden epidemic” of cancer and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This epidemic, the campaign says, was covered up by a “senior employee at the US Environmental Protection Agency” who worked with Monsanto “to suppress an investigation of glyphosate’s health risks …”

SVCF has also donated over $700,000 directly to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental nonprofit that says biotechnology companies are trying to monopolize food production, against the interests of farmers. “When the same people who sell seeds for pesticide-resistant crops also make the pesticides,” NRDC said in August 2018, “there’s a huge incentive for that company to encourage chemical-heavy growing practices, cashing in twice on farmers who become ever more dependent on its products.”

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $7,103,545 (2017)

Total Assets $13,584,110 (2017)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Tides Center $2,855,957

Trust for Conservation Innovation $1,482,000

Environmental Defense Fund $1,044,185

Environmental Working Group $869,500

Natural Resources Defense Council $712,675

Union of Concerned Scientists $508,900

Friends of the Earth $300,000

Earth Island Institute $297,300

Sierra Club $168,869

The Oakland Institute $381,000

Center for Environmental Health $101,000

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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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