The Packard Foundation works “with partners around the world to improve the lives of children, families, and communities—and to restore and protect our planet.” The foundation undoubtedly contributes to worthwhile causes, it also supports scientifically dubious ones.
Specifically, Packard has given money to the Center for Food Safety (CFS), whose goals include “ensuring the testing, labeling and regulation of genetically engineered (GE) foods” and “educating the public on the hazards of industrial agriculture.” Yet respected scientific bodies, including the American Medical Association and World Health Organization, consider GMOs safe and beneficial. Packard has also contributed to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which also questions GMO safety.
More recently, Packard has supported the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which produces and disseminates questionable science on a wide array of issues. For example, EWG publishes an annual report on sunscreen safety that grabs headlines but lacks scientific integrity—every single one of the companies that partners with EWG (those that have given financial support to EWG’s sunscreen campaign) were all given the best ratings.
EWG has also contributed to anti-vaccine scares. In 2004, EWG published a paper that raised “serious concerns about the studies that have allegedly proven the safety of mercury in vaccines.” Declining vaccination rates have led to increases in cases of measles and whooping cough, posing a significant public health risk.