A private foundation is a nonprofit organization that engages in activities for the general good…technically, that is. The catch is that the Foundation gets to define what general good means.
by Heidi Stevenson
9 January 2011
A private foundation is a nonprofit organization that engages in activities for the general good…technically, that is. The catch is that the Foundation gets to define what general good means. Foundations are also a terrific way for the wealthy to shelter their assets from taxation and keep them in the family, all the while giving the appearance of acting for the benefit of the people…and letting the creator of the Foundation bask in the glory of the title Philanthropist.
A foundation can buy almost any sort of asset it wants, including pieces of corporations in the form of stocks or bonds. A foundation is, effectively, a nearly tax-free corporation, with few limitations other than being unable to show profits. Of course, profits can be disguised in the form of salaries, grants, and virtually anything it does.
Bill Gates became the wealthiest person in the world. The corporation he started, Microsoft, controls more than 90 percent of the world’s software market, not including the freeware portion. (It’s almost a shame he didn’t try to patent freeware. He might have managed to strangle that software arena, too.) He used his personal wealth to set up the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
One would hope that the basic purpose of his foundation would be to make the world a better place. But, if it were, wouldn’t he use his Foundation to…well, make the world better? Wouldn’t he try to assure that more people could get a piece of the pie? And wouldn’t the Foundation’s business associates be ones that benefit the world?
It doesn’t look like it. Gates’ Foundation has partnered with some of the most rapacious corporations in the world. Monsanto, which controls about 90 percent of the world’s genetically modified seed and the vast majority of the rest of the commercial seed, is now partially owned by the Gates Foundation.
According to the Wall Street Journal(1), among others, the Gates Foundation has holdings in:
Walmart (9.2 million shares)
McDonald’s (9.4 million shares)
ExxonMobil (6.3 million shares)
Berkshire Hathaway (76.4 million Class B shares)
Monsanto (500,000 shares)
Despite protestations to the opposite, it’s hard to to believe that the Gates Foundation is genuinely concerned with people’s health. Ownership in Walmart and McDonald’s makes that abundantly clear. ExxonMobil is one of the world’s most rapacious corporations. You do recall the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, don’t you? Berkshire Hathaway is Warren Buffett’s baby. He’s also a trustee of the Gates Foundation. Is that incestuous enough?
Top Level Gates Foundation Staff
The resumés of most of the highest-level personnel of the Gates Foundation is revealing:
Warren Buffett, Trustee: Like Bill Gates, he is one of the richest people in the world. He recently “donated” massive amounts of his wealth to the foundation. His fund, Berkshire Hathaway, has massive holdings in the Bank of America, American Express, the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, Coca Cola, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and major medical supplier Becton Dickinson & Co, among others.(3) Is his involvement as a trustee philanthropic, or a means of assuring that he can keep an eye on his money long after his death?
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, President, Global Development Program: She is also on the Board of Directors for MetLife and on the Board of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which seems to serve as a front for GMO seeds and receives the Gates Foundation’s biggest grants(2). As if this weren’t enough, she is also a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Nike Foundation Advisory Group
Tachi Yamada, MD, President, Global Health Program: He is a former Board Member of GlaxoSmithKline.
Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer, Foundation Operations: Before her “public service” roles, she was in banking, a Vice President at the Bank of California Credit Administration, Commercial and Private Banking.
Richard Henriques, Chief Financial Officer, Foundation Operations: He was the was Senior Vice President of Finance and Corporate Controller at Merck.
Kate James, Chief Communications Officer, Foundation Operations: Before involvement with the Gates Foundation, she was in both banking and Big Pharma. She was Senior Vice President, Global Corporate Communications for Citibank, and “senior leadership roles at Standard Chartered Bank and GlaxoSmithKline in the areas of communications, international government relations, strategy and sustainability”, according to her Gates Foundation bio.
Geoff Lamb, Managing Director, Public Policy Foundation Operations: He was Vice President of Concessional Finance and Global Partnerships at the World Bank.
Franci Phelan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Foundation Operations: She was Vice President of Human Resources at Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a DuPont company. She was the Human Resources Platform Lead for DuPont Agriculture and Nutrition and was a member of the DuPont Corporate Human Resources Leadership Team
Most of the senior officials of the Gates Foundation have strong ties to some of the most brazen corporations and pseudo-charities in the world. GlaxoSmithKline. Merck. The World Bank. DuPont. Nike. Trilateral Commission. AGRA. CitiBank.
The Deranged Agriculture System and Its Connection to Oil
Directly or indirectly, the primary source of wealth in the modern world is oil. We’ve become a mobile society because of it. Products are transported all over the world because oil provides the means to moves goods cheaply. Our agricultural methods have been transformed through the use of it. Petroleum contains the primary ingredients that support the chemical, pesticide, and pharmaceutical industries.
Monsanto started as a chemicals company. It was a child of the oil industry. When their past environmental and health destruction was finally reaching the courts, the company remade itself. The parts responsible for its transgressions were spun off. These parts became the sitting ducks for the lawsuits. To mix metaphors, they were the sacrificial lambs. That left the “new” Monsanto free to engage in a new direction. They remade themselves into the kings of genetic modification, especially in seeds, and they became a paradigm for corporate depravity in their methods of forcing and sneaking their defective products on farmers all over the world.
Monsanto and its products are dependent on a deranged agricultural system. Modern agriculture has left the natural world entirely in favor of a system that utilizes oil products to replace husbandry of the earth. Instead of focusing on the synergy of the sun, soil, and water to produce food plants, oil-based products are used. Oil-based fertilizers provide the gross requirements of plants without consideration for the ultimate nutritional needs of people, thus providing pretty fruits and vegetables that are short in nutrition. These weakened plants cannot survive under assaults of the natural world, so they’re defended with pesticide poisons based on oil.
Now, this deranged agricultural system is ripe for even further predations in the form of genetically modified plants designed to survive in a contaminated agribusiness system. This is the niche that Monsanto has carved for itself. Wherever Monsanto finds that farmers refuse their products, they take aggressive approaches. In poor places, their first method seems generous: they donate their destructive seeds. Ultimately, though, those farmers often find that the crop yields are not as promised, often poorer than what they’d achieved without GMOs. They then find their land damaged, even destroyed, and their poorer output makes it impossible to afford seed the following season. In wealthier areas, Monsanto sues farmers whose crops have been adulterated by cross pollination with GMO plants. Those farmers are then forced to pay Monsanto for growing crops that Monsanto has adulterated. It makes no difference whether those crops are inferior or that they destroyed the farmers’ business, they’re forced to pay because Monsanto’s wealth allows them to purchase what now passes for justice in the legal system.
These GMO seeds allow massive doses of Monsanto’s glyphosate weed killer. That becomes a vicious cycle of more and more glyphosate required, at greater and greater costs. It wrecks the environment by destroying soil and with crossbreeding that results in wild plants that are more pesticide resistant than natural ones.
Ultimately, this process can only lead to the death of the environment that supports all life. Indeed, huge areas have already suffered mightily. Huge dead areas in rivers and the oceans exist because of agricultural runoff. Soils have become unproductive. Pollution has caused untold health problems and early deaths. Massive suffering on a massive scale is the result. But, until the entire system collapses, there is money to be made.
The Gates Foundation’s Association with Deranged Agriculture
So, does the Gates Foundation try to end oil-based agriculture and pharmaceuticals and industrial food? No, of course not. Its goal has nothing to do with the betterment of humanity and the earth.
Take a look at the sources of talent Gates’ Foundation pulls from, and then compare that with where its greatest financial support goes. The financial interests of the people associated with the Foundation and the interests of the agencies and corporations it supports, whether directly or indirectly, coincide. The Foundation has placed huge investments in the places that will return profits to the people and corporations with which it’s associated.
Rather than trying to stop land-destroying agricultural practices, like McDonald’s destruction of productive agricultural and rainforest land for cattle and Monsanto’s health and soil destroying GMOs, they are either ignored or supported. The ability of small-scale farmers to continue to produce crops is being destroyed by these practices, so the welfare and way of life of masses of people is being destroyed. The Foundation’s response is to push the products that cause it. Vaccinations are being pushed on the world’s poorest children in Africa, rather than trying to promote genuine health through access to good food, water, and shelter—but this helps bring profits to Big Pharma, with whom the Gates Foundation has strong associations. All of these practices are profitable for the petroleum industry, and the Gates Foundation is a big holder in ExxonMobil.
The Gates Foundation supports some of the most destructive practices in the world and associates with some of the worst corporations. The future of the world—the environment, wildlife, and humans—is at risk from all of the Gates Foundation’s major financial associations. The Gates Foundation supports them, and ultimately stands to profit from them.
The Gates Foundation is intimately tied to the oil industry and the industries most intimately tied to it: pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, and the prepared food industry. To the detriment of the entire world, the Foundation promotes those industries in its so-called philanthropic activities. In the end, the primary beneficiaries of the Gates Foundation appear to be members of the Wealthiest People in the World Club