Sustainable Pulse exclusive interview with Zen Honeycutt, Founder of Moms Across America, on their 4th July march against GMOs in towns across the US, children with allergies, Michelle Obama and much much more…
Why has Moms Across America decided to march to support GMO labeling on July 4th in towns across the US?
Because we love our kids. And we are using our “Mom Common Sense”. Over 19 animal studies have shown grave health concerns such as tumors akin to breast cancer, infertility, sterility, birth defects, miscarriages, obesity and organ damage, inflamed stomachs and autism-like symptoms. A recent corn study shows alarming differences and toxicity. Thanks to Jeffrey Smith’s “Genetic Roulette” and Robyn O’Brien’s Ted Talk “Patriotism on a Plate” we now know that GMOs not only have a host of health concerns but also cause unpredictable, unforeseeable and uncontrollable mutations in living things. This is unacceptable to us Moms, we have enough to worry about with diapers and tantrums…mutations? Really?
Seriously though, July 4th is our national day of celebrating our right to freedom. We are one of the only countries in the world that does not have the right to know what is in our food right now and we Moms have something to say about that. Home town parades make sense because everyone in town are there, it’s local, we can share in a fun way and the media cannot ignore us. In Carmichael, CA supporters marched in a 4th of July parade in big vegetable costumes last year and had a great time. It’s all about connecting with our communities.
After the failure of Prop 37 in California what gives you hope that GMO labeling bills in other states will work?
Prop 37 was a win in many ways. Pamm Larry led the way for over 6 million people to vote yes in just a few months. That’s huge. We know that labelling in other states will work the supporters are committed and because we Moms are not backing down. We buy 85% of the food. And if we don’t buy it, they can’t sell it. So we say “No Label? Not on our Table!” Senators, manufacturers and retailers are beginning to get that we want labels. We have the right to know what we feed our children. Opposition may have a lot of money, but we have the gift of gab. Their wallets are not bigger than the love for our children.
As a mother yourself what is your main worry regarding GMOs and your children – is labelling enough to protect them?
My three boys, 10, 7 and 4, have allergies to dairy, eggs, gluten/wheat, and one has life threatening allergies to nuts and Carageenan, a seaweed food thickener in everything kids like. He almost died twice from food allergies. I did not know anyone with allergies like this when I was a child. My partner in planning the march, Kathleen Hallal, has 3 young boys aged 8, 9 and 11 who 26 food sensitivities, including one with an allergy to peanuts and penicillin. Allergies have never run in their family. Where are they coming from? Her eldest son also has an autoimmune disorder(s) called PANDAS which looks like a behavioural/psychological issue but is really an overreaction of antibodies in response to an infection which hides as an invisible strep infection found deep within the tonsils. Like Rheumatic fever, the antibodies attack the infection, but also other parts of the body. In the case of PANDAS, antibodies attack the brain rather than the heart or joints. PANDAS children always have a weakened immune system. Our concern is that our children’s immune systems may be weakened by fighting off the foreign proteins in GMOs, resulting in more allergies, illnesses, and behavioral and learning difficulties. These types of issues are skyrocketing in our classrooms and we feel that the fullest potential of our children’s future is being stolen. More and more children are showing extreme food allergies, and the tragedy of the 19 year old boy who died recently from taking a bite of a cookie is our worst nightmare. The other huge concern is that, like the rats that were sterile after the third generation, that our children or grandchildren may not know the profound love it is to hold a child of their own heritage, flesh and blood. However, many food manufacturers will no longer use GMO ingredients if they have to label, as they do already in many other countries, and this will protect our children from eating foreign proteins when we are not there to feed them. Many Moms, myself and Kathleen included, have seen dramatic improvements in our children’s health by going GMO Free, but there are so many Moms who still do not know that our food may be contributing to children’s various health issues, and that they should be watching out for GMOs.
What are your expectations for the result of the marches – can you go beyond the borders of the US with this initiative?
We expect to raise awareness locally and nationally simultaneously and cause change globally. I got request this week for support in starting a Moms Across Canada. We need Canada. The USA and Canada are the last two leading nations to hold out on labelling and the biggest producers of GMOs. With partnership, we can absolutely go beyond the borders of the USA, this is a global issue. We all love our kids and we can all speak up. It really is up to us. As we do, we will impact future generations around the world as well. I have learned that the easiest way to teach a child to be a leader is to be a leader. They will pass that on and that is the true win from this movement, empowerment. Mothers in all cultures and nations are the caregivers of the family, and we can all lead the way.
Who has Moms Across America received backing from so far for the July 4th marches – do the current label it campaign organizations support each other enough?
Support has come and is coming from all the wonderful people who came before us. We have been able to meet and collaborate with Pamm Larry from Prop 37, The CA State Grange, Farmer Howard Vlieger, Diane Reeves of GMO Free USA, Tara Cook-Littman of the coalition of 37 States, Food Democracy Now , Organic Consumer Association, Green America and GMO Inside, Dr Fagan and NON-GMO Project Verified, Jeffrey Smith of Institute for Responsible Technology…it really is like going to the Grammy’s for us, these are our heroes. These people are impacting the future of food and the freedom and health of future generations and have been working on this for years. We are Moms who have husbands who support us to volunteer and get the word out. These coalitions are helping with advice, connecting us with key people and all of their supporters and we are truly grateful to be united and working together. They are also supporting the 37 States that now have ballot or legislatives initiatives in works, so their resources are spread thin. We are searching for sponsors to support our march, because we can get this done so much faster together. This is a global fight that is on the America’s turf. It is Moms against Goliath in the USA and Canada, with nearly all of our corn and soy being GMO. Together we can create a cohesive network , so instead of coming at the current system like showerheads, from many different angles, we are coming at them like a dam breaking, all unified together.
Michelle Obama has an organic garden planted in the White House – why in your opinion does her husband protect his children more than other children in America?
Because he can. I don’t know his reasons for not making good on his promise to push to label GMOs in the U.S. I do believe Big Ag is such a large part of our economy, that they have a lot of influence on Washington. I know he said he would label them and he has an opportunity to keep his word. Whatever his reason, we as mothers are fed up with not having labeling in this country when they have labeling in 61 other countries, and we want to get all of the mothers together to demand it for our families’ sakes. We feel the best way to make that change is networking through mother’s communities so that we can all vote with our grocery dollars! If it ends up that a food manufacturer like Kellogg’s or a retailer like Walmart ends up being a bigger hero than the President and says that they will require labeling, then we are ready and waiting with open arms, and we will spread the word with anyone and everyone.
Sustainable Pulse looks forward to setting up a regular video blog with Moms Across America – how can mothers get involved in other ways and who do they need to contact?
We are looking forward to a video blog too! I am also one of the hosts on the Weekly Womens GMO Free News Show- a google hangout every Friday at 9:30 PST. It is recorded and you can watch it on YouTube. Go to our Facebook site Weekly Womens GMO Free News. Moms and supporters in the USA can get involved by signing up to march on MomsAcrossAmerica.com and volunteer on our website, donate and get involved by connecting with their local leader.
Moms Across America is looking for sponsors in giving out Organic Garden Grants to school/communities as we drive cross country on the Moms Across America Tour. The plan is to create mentorship between local organic farmers and youth leadership as they grow organic fruits and vegetables to donate to local food banks. Kids eat veges when they grow them and Moms from all economic backgrounds deserve access to organic food. Please contact us if you want to help make this tour and grants happen.
Globally, what Moms can do is keep sharing! If just one Mom shares about GMOs with 10 Moms ( perhaps hosts a movie night, GMO Free Potluck Party or GMO Free Tea) and they only share with 5, and each of those share with 5 Moms, who all share with 5…then that one Mom will be personally responsible for informing 1,270 Moms about GMOs in her neighbourhood alone! We can do this! It may sound corny (no pun intended!) but all you need to do is care enough to share. We will win. The love of a mother is unstoppable.