The Hewlett Foundation

The Hewlett Foundation is dedicated to “helping to reduce global poverty, limiting the risk of climate change, improving education for students in California and elsewhere, improving reproductive health and rights worldwide,” among other things. The foundation supports some noble causes, but it also funds groups that produce and disseminate questionable science.

For example, Hewlett has given money to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which questions the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in defiance of the scientific community. UCS claims, “[genetically engineered] crops do have the potential to cause a variety of health problems and environmental impacts…they may produce new allergens and toxins, spread harmful traits to weeds and non-GE crops, or harm animals that consume them.” However, numerous scientific authorities—the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Medical Association, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and World Health Organization—consider GMOs safe and beneficial.

Hewlett also draws criticism over its position on transparency. In April 2014, Hewlett announced it was withdrawing support for organizations that “provide publicly-accessible information about the financial performance and social impact of nonprofits.” Nonetheless, Hewlett claims the decision does not mean the foundation is “abandoning the idea” of “effective philanthropy.”