The largest program services conducted by the Center for Food Safety include:
The Center for Food Safety has won legal cases related to food and agricultural issues.
The CFS has participated in legal actions against manufacturers of genetically modified crops, such as GE alfalfa, wheat, rice, beets, and claims to have successfully stopped the commercialization of at least seven of these in the US. This includes the introduction of controversial Pharming plants (GE plants which produce biopharmaceuticals).
The CFS has also been an advocate for GE food labeling at both the state and federal level, pushing for new legislation and generating public support across the country for the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action.
In addition to its work on GE foods, the Center for Food Safety has filed numerous legal petitions concerning the food industry, to halt the use of dangerous feed additives in industrial livestock, and to protect pollinators from toxic pesticides.
The organization works on: genetically modified foods animals and organisms (GMO), organic food standards, aquaculture, pesticides and pollinators, animal cloning, food irradiation, CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - huge animal growing factories) and animal drugs, synthetic hormones (such as bovine somatropin), and mad cow disease.
The Center for Food Safety has organized a grass-roots action network dedicated to "building a socially just, democratic, and sustainable food system". The CFS has more than 700,000 members nationwide.
The center's executive director is Andrew Kimbrell, a public interest attorney, environmental activist, and author. He is the founder of the International Center for Technology Assessment.
As Senior Attorney and Policy Director for the Foundation for Economic Trends, Kimbrell initiated several federal court cases. Many of these were against governmental agencies. He was able to successfully appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a coalition of organizations, resulting in the regulation of motor vehicles carbon dioxide pollution under the Clean Air Act.
Kimbrell appears on Utne Reader’s list of the world's leading 100 visionaries, and The Guardian recognized him in 2008 as one of the 50 people who could save the planet. He is also frequent contributor to documentaries, including the 2004 film The Future of Food.
Financial information is available on the Center for Food Safety's website:
Andrew Kimbrell has been the Executive Director since 2008. In 2012 Randy Hayes, the secretary of the Center for Food Safety, was compensated $13,182. This is the first year any other board members were compensated other than the Executive Director.
The Center for Food Safety has been an associated party in challenges against the planting of genetically modified crops in the US.
In April, 2004, Monsanto petitioned the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for deregulation of their product Roundup Ready Alfalfa (RRA). After performing an Environmental Assessment, APHIS deregulated the product in 2005. In 2006, this decision was challenged by Geertson Seed Farms and other parties including the Center for Food Safety. This led to a decision by the US District Court of San Francisco to suspend the deregulated status of RRA and place an injunction on the sale and planting of RRA until the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement.
The US Supreme Court reversed the District Court decision in 2010, in the case of Monsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms. This 7-1 decision in favor of Monsanto Company declared the injunction against RRA invalid, allowing the sale and planting of the product; it did not, however, restore the deregulated status of the crop. Upon completion of the Environmental Impact Statement, RRA was officially deregulated in January 2011.
The Center for Food Safety also launched a separate lawsuit against RRA in the case Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, in October, 2012. The CFS alleged that RRA had been improperly reviewed by APHIS, arguing that it should be considered a "Plant Pest" under the Plant Protection Act. In 2013 the United States District Court of San Francisco issued a ruling for the case in favor of the defendant, Thomas Vilsack, Secretary of APHIS.
In 2009-2010, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has been considering the case involving the planting of genetically modified sugar beets. This case involves Monsanto's breed of pesticide-resistant sugar beets. This lawsuit was also organised by Center for Food Safety.
Earlier in 2010, Judge Jeffrey S. White allowed the planting of GM sugar beets to continue, but he also warned that this may be blocked in the future while an environmental review was taking place. Finally, on 13 August 2010, Judge White ordered the halt to the planting of the genetically modified sugar beets in the US. He indicated that "the Agriculture Department had not adequately assessed the environmental consequences before approving them for commercial cultivation."
In a 2012 article on the Huffington Post blog website, Kimbrell claimed that the Monsanto developed soy, corn and cotton seeds, resistant to Agent Orange (despite the fact that the APHIS application doesn't include 2,4,5-T ) and other chemicals the like of it, as well as Dow Chemical's developments, are promoting a major boost in the usage of these herbicides and pesticides some of which have been proven to be highly toxic.
These developments have been made to combat newly resistant weeds and insects, immune to developed pesticides and herbicides, which became "a problem needing national attention" according to a National Academy of Sciences committee.
Kimbrell's most alarming claim is that according to some, the reliance on this non-diverse type of grain, may be "a threat to global food production".
One month later, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to reaffirm its denial of the petition, and to allow continued usage of these chemicals, and in 2014 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave a green light to allow the seeds to be used.
Anti-activist website 'Activist Facts' has criticized Kimbrell and the CFS and accused them of receiving large sums of money from the Foundation for Deep Ecology, and being the "high priest" of that movement. The site claims that the CFS promoted a Mad Cow disease scare.
The Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI), a pro Genetically-Engineered food organisation, claims that in one case, Kimbrell was said to have released a baseless food poisoning scare in the Wall Street Journal, following a request to exempt Monsanto from recalling of CANOLA oil from seed with a not yet US approved gene, (although approved in Canada) found in small quantities in their oil, after deciding to concentrate on a different gene that had similar results.
GE crop development scientists, molecular biologists, pro GE organisations, and the broader scientific community disagree with anti GE organisations such as the CFS, and argue that the FDA and the courts are careful, scientific and truthful, and that most of the anti GE claims from organisations like CFS are based on emotion, on misrepresented facts and not on science and the scientific method nor do they reflect the consensus held among scientists regarding GE crops.