Funding for the Hawaii anti-GMO movement continues to grow, with nearly all of it coming from wealthy mainland philanthropists, according to the latest tax returns.
Indeed, grantmaking foundations supply virtually all the operating money that fuels the national and local anti-biotech movement, even though its leaders love to claim they're leading a grassroots, citizens' initiative.
Still, many details about funding sources and expenditures remain murky, even as these groups demand transparency from others.
Meanwhile, even as these groups actively work to influence the current Hawaii legislative session, we are only now seeing their financials from 2014, leaving the public and policy-makers in the dark about their full role in Island politics.
Let's start with the Center for Food Safety (CFS). This Washington, D.C.-based group serves as a funding source for smaller groups, like Babes Against Biotech and Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, and has a satellite office with fulltime staff in Hawaii.
|Hawaii CFS presents a distorted view of Island ag.|
In 2014, CFS took in $5.231 million — nearly $1.3 million more than 2013. With these resources, CFS was able to:
• Increase its total number of employees from 40 to 52
• Establish and staff a Hawaii field office with an operating budget of $738,569
• Help win a Maui County (Hawaii) referendum election calling for a GM crop moratorium
• Distribute $238,500 overseas to anti-biotech organizations in Southeast Asia and Africa
• Wage a GMO labeling ballot proposition campaign in Washington State
• Campaign to block passage of the so-called “Dark Act” in Congress
• Expend $313,035 in lobbying expenditures, almost all of it to influence legislation.
Research conducted by Rory Flynn, who contributed heavily to this post, shows that foundations provided over 90 percent of all “grants and contributions” received annually by CFS for the period 2002-2011. That remained true in 2014, with some 39 foundations identified as contributors that year. Furthermore, the tally of foundation grants received by CFS — and other anti-biotech NGOs — is growing year by year. CFS received more than $16 million during 2010-2014, compared to $7.3 million during 2005-2009, which represents quite a growth spurt.
Yes, anti-activism is a booming business — though classified as a "charitable" activity by the IRS, and thus subsidized by taxpayers — with the flow of philanthropic dollars essentially untouched by the recent recession.
So which foundations gave CFS $2,881 million in 2014?
Ceres Trust — $630,789 Ceres Foundation — $500,000 Schmidt Family Foundation — $250,000 William Zimmerman Foundation — $160,000 Schwab Charitable Fund (per 2013 990 ending 6/30/2014) — $135,250 David B. Gold Foundation — $125,000 Cornerstone Campaign — $115,000 TomKat Charitable Trust —$100,000 Sacharuna Foundation — $100,000 CS Fund (2013 990 ending 10/30/2014) — $100,000 Goldman Sachs Charitable Gift Fund — $100,000 Marisla Foundation — $75,000 V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation — $50,000 The Bellweather Foundation II — $ 30,000 Atherton Family Foundation — $29,000 Appleton Foundation — $25,000 Bill Healy Foundation — $25,000 Organic Valley (Farmers Advocating For Organics) — $25,000 Threshold Foundation — $25,000 Flora Family Foundation — $25,000 Firedoll Foundation — $25,000 Silicon Association Valley Community — $25,000 Gaia Fund — $20,000 Cornell Douglas Foundation Inc. — $20,000 Park Foundation, Inc. — $20,000 Boston Foundation — $20,000 New World Foundation — $15,000 Colad Charitable Trust — $15,000 Conservation and Preservation Charities of America — $15,787 Community Foundation of Western North Carolina — $12,000 Rudolf Steiner Foundation (RSF) Social Finance — $11,000 Frost Family Foundation (Maui) — $10,000 Gardner Grout Foundation — $10,000 Roy A. Hunt Foundation — $7,500 The Leonora Foundation Inc. — $ 5,000 Benjamin J. Rosenthal Foundation — $ 5,000 Robert P. Rotella Foundation — $ 5,000 E&H Humbly Bumbly Foundation — $2,476 The Aufmuth Family Foundation — $200
More opaque funding came from other sources — Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and two organic companies, Nutiva and Sky Island Organics — which disclosed they donated, but not how much. The Johnson foundation gave to both the national and Hawaii CFS offices, while Nutiva contributed to both CFS and Hawaii SEED. And it got $11,629 from the "combined federal campaign" (federal workers).
CFS also received a $1.358 million windfall in 2014 from a 2013 class action lawsuit brought in California against a manufacturer of hair and skin care products. Plaintiffs claimed they were misled by the packaging and advertising of purportedly “wholly organic” hair and skin care products that failed to meet the requirements of California’s organic standards law, which resulted in a class-action settlement of $6.5 million. Attorneys’ fees and administration costs reduced that to $4.866 million. Claims were capped at a maximum of $28 per person, and people had six months to file. Apparently, few did, as $2.716 million was left in the pot when claim period ended. By court order, it was split evenly between the Consumers Union — the publisher of Consumer Reports, which claims to be non-partisan, but is actively anti-GMO — and CFS. These two groups, and the lawyers who filed the suit, made out like bandits in a case that was much ado about nothing.
There’s a growing argument that cy pres (“as near as”) awards to NGOs are predatory and unconstitutional. Basically, CFS received the cy pres funds because it works to uphold the National Organic Standards Act. In other words, its “underlying mission” was sufficient to make it a beneficiary of the settlement, though CFS did not initiate the lawsuit nor provide legal counsel to plaintiffs. In a more just world, the court might have directed such funds to a worthy cause — say, a food bank. But that’s not how the cy pres doctrine works.
Flush with cash, CFS opened a field office in Honolulu in 2014 and hired Ashley Lukens, a political science PhD, to run it. According to its tax return, the Center for Food Safety expended $738,569 to open and operate its new Hawaii field office in 2014.
A CFS press release said the office was staffed by Lukens, program director, and Kasho Ho, a community outreach coordinator. How did the fledgling, two-person office manage to expend $738,569? The tax form provides no details. We know, however, that CFS assisted in the 2014 GMO moratorium ballot measure campaign on Maui that year. But the tax form supplies no details about this political campaign activity and related expenditures.
In 2014, CFS executive director Andrew Kimbrell claimed that he received $217,441 from CFS, with an additional $17,400 shown as estimated “other compensation from the organization and related organizations.” In fact, he received nearly twice that amount, or $32,500, in 2014 from the Cornerstone Campaign, which is led by two Rockefeller heiresses:
CFS drags its feet in filing tax returns, which is why we're only now seeing its 2014 return. What's more, the return for its political action fund, which has been used to influence Hawaii politics, is not available on Guidestar, leaving citizens in the dark.
Nevertheless, a look at the returns filed by various foundations gives us a glimpse of CFS' income sources for 2015:
Other foundations that previously funded CFS have not yet reported on Guidestar. They include: Hawaii Community Foundation; Marisla Foundation (Anne Getty Earhart); William Zimmerman Foundation; David B. Gold Foundation; V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation; Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation; Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.; RSF Social Finance; Appleton Foundation; Bill Healy Foundation; Flora Family Foundation; San Francisco Foundation; New World Foundation; Conservation and Preservation Charities of America; Community Foundation of Western North Carolina; Hawaii People’s Fund; Nutiva; Sky Island Organics; Organic Valley; and the Combined Federal Campaign.
Unfortunately, many foundations are now failing to attach a roster of grants made to their 990-PF form. This is a disturbing trend that further shields grant-making from public scrutiny.
So how is CFS using its money, aside from running a propaganda campaign in Hawaii? Though its own return offers few details, the 2015 returns filed by its funders shed more light. I'll delve into that in the next installment.
Again, many thanks to Rory Flynn for his painstaking research.
Are you going to do the same expose on the Chen Companies?
The "chem companies" aren't claiming to be grassroots, public advocates, nor are they operating under the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. What's more, they actually disclose their lobbying expenses.
7:00am The Chen Companies? Have they all been acquired by the Chinese? The companies you are probably referring to all publish annual reports and file 10K's with the SEC- in a more timely fashion than CFS. Don't be a slacker; go look for yourself.
CFS expends a disproportionate amount of it's annual booty on its Hawaii office highlighting its need for policy "wins" and the better likelihood that they could gain them here than in a state with real "big ag". This is possible when so many people who have no experience at all with Hawaii's sugar/pineapple era have flooded in from urban areas importing their own peculiar anti-agricultural prejudices and baggage. Poipu, the north shore and other gilded enclaves are full of them. And Hawaii has always had a high gullibility rate when it comes to fast talking outsiders like Lukens whether they be missionaries or invidious bullshitters like her and Hooser . You can find a cozy little nest of them in the list of advisory members to the CFS Hawaii Office.
Just because CFS bullshitters claim to be grassroots advocates doesn't make pesticides safe. Conrow logic is getting more like Kellyanne Conway logic more and more each day.
@9:15 It appears you have either a thinking disorder or a reading comprehension problem.
I have NEVER argued that pesticides are safe.
And this post isn't about pesticides. So quit trying to change the subject.
Come on Joan, you have a lot of good points, but your overall message seems to always side with the large seed companies. All good if you are getting paid, but you claim pesticides have to be used in modern agriculture. I want to start a blog where I espouse gmo technology as somehow being good for the greater good. I am no scientist, but just looking at who owns the seed companies(chemical company) makes me not trust their intentions.
@10:41 I often find myself in defense of the seed companies because they are the ones being attacked by the anti-GMO activists. And if these attacks result in policies limiting biotechnology development and deployment in agriculture, then it most definitely will set back GMOs that are being developed for the greater good. These include projects in the works that would infer drought and salinity tolerance, improve photosynthesis, reduce the need for fertilizer inputs, eliminate aflatoxins and reduce pesticides. Though public sector scientists are working on many of these projects, some of them involve technology owned by the same companies that run Hawaii's seed farms. These companies are increasingly releasing the patents on some of their technology so it can be included in these public good projects, with the seeds available at low cost to locally run seed cooperatives. An example is the WEMA project.
Also, I have never claimed that "pesticides have to be used in modern agriculture." They are a tool that is useful in controlling pests and diseases, and they have been effective in improving yields and reducing hand labor, which is in short supply across the globe. One reason I support GMOs is that many of the seeds currently available actually reduce pesticide use.
If you're interested in a blog that espouses gmo technology as being good for the public good, then please visit the Alliance for Science. I'm a frequent contributor, and public sector GMO research is primarily our focus.
Science is the only thing that will save us from ourselves; not religion, or politically correct thinking.
GMOs will help save the world from starvation.
Science will save us until it kills us
I accidentally drank some roundup out of a waterbottle that was not labeled. I probably swallowed about 2 ounces of pure roundup. I drove myself to the hospital but after vomiting in the parking lot I felt fine. I decided that day that roundup is fine. I spray it along all my fence lines and use it to kill scrub trees. Just remember, toxic to plants but you can literally drink the stuff. Chill out fistees.
CFS = Big Organic Lobbyist. Game plan: Fear = record sales // 43 billion? What a game plan, next time someone says its organic ask them what makes it organic? Or why is organic better? The answer will prove that the BOL's are winning.
Roundup will be banned in the next 10 years, guaranteed, and a lot of you mouth pieces will be singing a different tune.
Roundup is the only savior of western civilization. You ever try pulling weeds? That is hard
@ 4:59 PM - It's interesting that all of the negative statements insinuating harm from the use of glyphosate all use hedge words like:
might cause cancer
people who claim
It's funny that with all the money and all the research that the anti-GMO crowd pour into their big cause, they still can't use words like "will" or "does".
The science is clear. But not in here......
Roundup replaced the use of more toxic products, if you get rid of it, people will go back to using more toxic products again.
You know what is funny@9:54 you obviously didn't read the link but think you know it all. "The court documents included Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators. The records suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and indicated that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency had worked to quash a review of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services." Monsanto knows "will" and "does" and knows your addiction to Doritos along with paying everybody off can keep that a dirty little secret for a bit longer,
@12:20 you do realize that this blog and its commenters are smarter than a doctor don't you?
@6:44 Says an acolyte of Dr. Oz....
@ 6:40 "The records suggested" --- and the suggestion was denied.
Maybe organic farmers have it right. If you abandon "science farming" and dictate organic faming, then production will severely decrease and there will be worldwide starvation. People will die off and populations will decline, which is really the root of most of the earth's problems ... overpopulation. The only problem is the poorest people will perish first. I guess that's the new world order. The new caste system will feature these rich activists at the top of the food chain. It's a sad day when scientists and researchers are persecuted for trying to advance food for the world.
@6:29. the decline of Roundup has already started with resistance water hemp, horse weed, and Palmer amaranth. I have friends that are 100% Liberty link soybeans. I'll be down from 100% RR beans last year to 60% this year. other farmers are trying dicamba soybeans.
@ 7:18. there are plenty of farmers that will continue to produce crops conventionally... raising a fourth to half a crops isn't as fun as running the combine bin over before you can reach the end of the field.... also, hand weeding sucks and is expensive. tillage destroys the soil and increases erosion..... So, those rich activist can buy their food elsewhere and farmer like me will take up the slack.
It's amazing how much organic food and grains we import from 3rd world countries because of their cheap labor. then we turn around and sell our cheap grains to those third world countries because they can't afford that over priced organic food. what a waste of fossil fuels, but the laws of economics make that system more profitable... There will come a point when those 3rd world countries will become self sufficient. To prevent being buried in a glut of grain, animal agriculture is exploding on the mainland, because it's more economical to export meat than grain. plus, we keep the manure here, which reduces fertilizer input cost. in addition, we have the jobs and tax revenue too. The next 30 years in agriculture are going to be really interesting.
@6:44 AM having an M.D. does not confer the an equivalent knowledge of agricultural sciences, in and of itself. Look up Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
And Joan, great blogs, love the expose of Ashley Lukens as a fear-mongerer. Maybe we should start printing up "I'm not a frog in a wheelbarrow" t-shirts.
Rather counter-intuitively, starving populations are currently increasing the fastest. Just check the UN statistics. The most disadvantaged areas don't have the consistent access to modern contraceptives that more developed areas do.
Population growth rates have taken a dive where girls are educated, where disease rates and infant mortality rates are low, and where there's enforcement against human trafficking, slavery and child marriage. Food security is a part of general security. Secure people have access to contraceptive technologies and choose to use them.
Glad that CFS is alive and well. Mahalo to the institutes, companies and private donors for keeping it going. We need to have the side that will take precautions---isn't this what a democracy is all about. If you think that CFS is being untruthful and persist just to make money, then that's your take-----we need two sides of every story! Let the debate go on!
To 10:35 AM:
No, we don't need "two sides". Not when one side is a total fabrication.
This is not a "story"; this is real life. We can't afford a lying "side".
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