A Public Resource Compiled by the

Walton Family Foundation

P.O. Box 2030
Bentonville, AR 72712
501c3 nonprofit

Donor to anti-GMO organizations as part of a broader philanthropic strategy

Key People

  • Kyle Peterson, Executive Director
  • Marc Holley Strategy, Learning & Evaluation Director
  • Daphne Moore Communications Director
  • Barry Gold, Environment Program Director
Walton Family Foundation

Founded in 1988 by the Walton Family Wal-Mart heirs, the Walton Family Foundation (WFF) works to improve K-12 education, protect rivers and oceans and the foundation’s home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta.

WFF takes no clear position on plant biotechnology, and has financed conventional agriculture research. However, the foundation supports environmental groups that campaign against GMO crops, including Environmental Working Group (EWG), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Multiplier and EU-based ClientEarth. The foundation is also supports the food and agriculture policy group AGree, co-founded by Stonyfield Organic CEO Gary Hirshberg.  Hirshberg also leads the Just Label it campaign, which argues that GMO crops are regularly “doused in the toxic weed killer” and put “children’s health at risk” as a result.

Since 2012, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has received just under $45 million from WFF. Although EDF no longer opposes crop biotechnology, one of the group’s contributing scientists, Christopher Portier, served as an “invited specialist” at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015. That year the agency determined that the weed killer glyphosate (Bayer’s Roundup) is a “probable carcinogen.” Experts by and large have rejected IARC’s conclusion, and further suggest that Portier’s involvement at IARC created a conflict of interest, since EDF was established to campaign against pesticide use.

WFF maintains ties to other groups that finance anti-GMO advocacy through its environment program director Barry Gold. Before joining the foundation, Gold served as director of marine conservation at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In 2015, the Moore Foundation donated $760,500 to Multiplier, an anti-GMO advocacy group that has also received over $6 million from the Walton Foundation since 2012. Prior to joining the Betty Moore Foundation, Gold worked for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which provides financial support to anti-GMO groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

Financial Data


Annual Revenue: $820,931,879 (2016)

Total Assets:$3,783,627,318 (2016)

Major Recipients (total contributions 2012-present)

Environmental Defense Fund $44,888,364

Multiplier $6,576,527

Center for Rural Affairs $1,015,807

Environmental Working Group $810,000

Client Earth $740,098

Natural Resources Defense Council $335,000

Ag Innovations $329,825

Tides Center $25,000

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources $25,000

Seed Savers Exchange $15,000

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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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