Editor’s Note: This article is a reprint. It was originally published June 23, 2019.
Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, is nothing if not committed to action. In this inspiring interview, we discuss her book, “Unstoppable: Transforming Sickness and Struggle Into Triumph, Empowerment and a Celebration of Community,” which delves into the state of the world’s food supply, how to navigate through the many hazards of the standard American diet, and how you can become a powerful change agent yourself.
Like so many other parents, Honeycutt struggled to identify the roots of her children’s many health issues, which included allergies, autoimmune problems and symptoms of autism.
“I was completely confused and baffled,” she says. “Why was this happening? My kids had 19, 20 and 22 food allergies [respectively]. My husband and I had none of them. What was going on with the food supply? Thanks to Robyn O’Brien, Jeffrey Smith and all the scientists who started exposing information, I found out about genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”
She also discovered the disturbing truth about glyphosate, and how this pernicious weed killer, used on a wide variety of foods, whether they’re GMO or not, decimates your gut microbiome and contributes to a host of health problems, some of which plagued her own children.
“The problem is glyphosate’s so prevalent. This is the declared active chemical ingredient in Roundup that 80% of GMOs are engineered to withstand. It’s sprayed on all kinds of crops as a drying agent. It’s in most of our food.
And then you combine that with all the other toxins in our environment, in our vaccines, in our pajamas, in our sofas and baby bottles and all of that — you’ve got all these chemicals and toxins coming at our kids. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
Our kids are sick. One out of 2 children have a chronic illness; 1 in 2 males and 1 in 3 females are expected to get cancer in America today. That’s not OK with me. That was the impetus for me starting Moms Across America. It was to raise awareness about GMOs and toxic chemicals in our food supply.”
Standing Up to Monsanto
On January 30, 2015, Honeycutt was given the opportunity to speak at a Monsanto shareholders meeting1 as a proxy for the John Harrington Investment Group. You can read her presentation here. The referendum she presented was passed, causing Monsanto’s stock to significantly drop in the aftermath.
“I think a lot of the shareholders in that room probably were uncomfortable with owning Monsanto’s stock after that meeting,” she says. “That was probably one of the most terrifying and significant moments of my life, because I had the opportunity to speak on behalf of parents … with sick children.
I got to stand up in front of the entire shareholders meeting and basically hold them to account, to say how their products are harming our children. I got to meet Hugh Grant … the former chief executive officer (CEO) of Monsanto.
I looked him in the eye and said, ‘You know, Mr. Grant, it takes a big man to make a big and powerful company. But it takes an even bigger man to acknowledge when something’s not working and to go in a new direction … Moms Across America is looking forward to the day when Monsanto makes products that no longer harm our children.’
He said, ‘We’re always looking forward to have progress. We’ve got science on our side.’ I said, ‘Well, we actually have science on our side too, [and it shows] that your products harm our children … Just consider, what if you’re wrong? What are the consequences?’ … There’s … global consequence.’
He said, ‘If you’re wrong, you’re worrying an awful lot of people.’ I said, ‘But if I’m wrong, the consequence is only that people are eating organic. There’s nothing wrong with organic’ …
So many of us get concerned about … ‘What if trolls come after me? What if I get attacked?’ People are actually concerned for their physical safety in this climate right now. But … we cannot be stopped … We need to be unstoppable … We cannot let fear interfere with our commitment. We need to take action … Chemical companies should not be involved in our food supply. That’s all there is to it.”
As noted by Honeycutt, it’s important to realize that the science Monsanto (now Bayer) claims is on their side was bought and paid for by them. Some studies have even been shown to have been ghostwritten by the company itself. Such facts have come out during the discovery process of some of the lawsuits against Monsanto, which now number well over 11,000.
Meanwhile, many peer-reviewed, independent studies have found glyphosate-based herbicides to be carcinogenic.2 Glyphosate has also been shown to be a DNA mutagen, a chelator of important minerals,3 an antibiotic,4 an endocrine disruptor5,6 and more.7,8,9,10,11
Research12 even found that among children born of women with high exposure to glyphosate during pregnancy the rate of autism spectrum disorder with intellectual disability was 30% higher than among those born of mothers who lived further from highly-sprayed areas. Children who on top of that were exposed to pesticides during their first year were at 50% increased risk.
As noted by Honeycutt, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s review13 found glyphosate was not a carcinogen, its conclusion was based on industry-funded science, not independent science. In fact, according to some of the members on the scientific advisory panel convened to evaluate the strength of the EPA’s decision, the agency violated its own guidelines by discounting and downplaying data from studies linking glyphosate to cancer.14
Turning Devastation Into Triumph
More often than not, people who stand up to big industry end up paying a high price. Many lose their careers in the process. A similar situation, although impossible to prove, happened to the Honeycutts. Two weeks after Honeycutt attended Monsanto’s shareholders meeting, an outside consultant came into and reorganized her husband’s company.
“My husband was the only one fired,” Honeycutt says. “Now, I can’t say that it was definitely connected to Monsanto, but Monsanto was one of their clients. My husband was in the information technology (IT) division. He had nothing to do with Monsanto. He had nothing to do with sales. I don’t even think he knew that they were a client for a very long time, not until I got into this.
He lost his job. At first we thought it was devastating … But … everything that seems devastating can actually be the best thing that ever happened to you … We made this into the best thing that ever happened to us. My husband got search engine optimization training. He became a consultant. His company is called Organic Results.
He now does consulting for companies that we believe in, to improve the traffic to their websites. He’s a consultant for Moms Across America. He runs our marketing. He … helps us with our Health Solutions Store … He’s been an integral part of Moms Across America, and part of the reason why we’re able to still stay around.
The cool thing is we get to work together every day. He gets to be with our sons who are 16, 13 and 10 now. They get to have their dad around. It’s just phenomenal. I just absolutely love that we get to do what we’re doing.”
Eating Organic Can Make a World of Difference
As mentioned, all three of Honeycutt’s children struggled with food allergies. Her oldest son had a severe allergic reaction at 18 months after eating a nut. At the age of 5, he nearly died on Thanksgiving due to a pecan in the stuffing.
“One day, when he was about 8 years old, he had this rash around his mouth that had been going on and off for about seven months. It would last for about two weeks at a time. We didn’t know what it was. He looked at me really forlornly. He said, ‘Mom, I wish all my allergies would go away.’ I said, ‘Me too, buddy.’ But in my head, I was thinking, ‘That’s never going to happen.’
Then I realized what I was saying in my head. I was like, ‘Wait a second. That’s not what I’m committed to. I’m committed to empowerment. What if there was something we could do?’ I remembered my cousin, Sara, who had gone gluten-free for a long time and then was able to eat gluten about a year later.
I said, ‘Ben, would you like to be able to eat a slice of pizza or have a piece of birthday cake at a birthday party like a year from now?’ I painted that picture; that future. He said yes. I said, ‘Well then, would you be my partner in your health? Would you drink green drinks and go to alternative doctors?’ He said yes … We made a deal, and he did.
I did the research. He took the actions. He drank the green drinks. We took care of his gut bacteria. Within four months of going GMO-free, the rash was dramatically better. You could barely see it. It was a faint pink line under his lip if he was exposed to the allergen, which we figured out was carrageenan, by going to an alternative doctor.
And then within about a year or two of going organic … his allergies to walnuts and pecans went from a 19 down to 0.2. He no longer has a life-threatening food allergy. The peace of mind that I have as a mother that my son won’t die from food is priceless. It’s enormous. Our doctors’ bills, by the way, are dramatically lower.
We used to spend $12,000 to $15,000 with good health insurance. Now it’s maybe a couple hundred. It’s nothing. That’s just for checkups or whatever. We haven’t had to go for a sick doctor visit in three and a half years. He’s dramatically better.”
Autism Symptoms Linked to Glyphosate Exposure
Honeycutt’s second child developed a sudden onset of autism symptoms. “He was basically like an 8-year-old who was acting like a 3- or 4-year old. He was having tantrums. His grades went from As to Ds in math … His behavior was very erratic. He was trying to hit us … He was not being himself.” Honeycutt says.
A medical checkup revealed he had gut dysbiosis caused by C. difficile. According to the doctor, who specialized in autism, the inflammation in his gut was also causing inflammation in his brain. Glyphosate is known to do this, which prompted the Honeycutt’s to have him tested for glyphosate exposure.
“My son was the first one to be tested in America for glyphosate in his urine. We had finally initiated that. Moms Across America had put out the word to everybody. You can get your urine, your tap water and your breast milk tested for glyphosate.
His levels were eight times higher than was ever found in Europe, when Friends of the Earth did testing in Europe. I was furious that Roundup was in my son. We went 100% organic. Within six weeks, we retested him. His glyphosate levels were no longer detectable, and his autism symptoms were gone.
All we did was take care of his gut. We did give him an antifungal. We didn’t have to do a probiotic in there, but we gave him lots of sauerkraut, organic food. He ate no sugar from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, so he didn’t feed the bad gut bacteria. He recovered. He has not had a single autism symptom [in] five years now.”
Glyphosate Found in Vaccines
Now, food is not the only source of glyphosate exposure. Years ago, Honeycutt came across a Facebook post listing vaccine ingredients. Among them: polysorbate 80 — which like glyphosate can break down the blood-brain barrier and let toxins in — aluminum, bovine serum (blood) and egg.
Honeycutt realized some of these ingredients are likely GMO, or have been fed GMOs, and if so, they’re likely contaminated with glyphosate since glyphosate cannot be washed off. When an animal eats glyphosate-contaminated feed, their body parts become contaminated as well. Moms Across America sent five childhood vaccines to be tested for glyphosate, and every single one of them came back positive.
“The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine came back 25 times higher than the other vaccines. Another scientist independently tested 14 more vaccines, and they also came back and confirmed our results,” Honeycutt says.
“His MMR vaccine came back 35 times higher. We all know that the problem around the MMR vaccine is that … it causes gut dysbiosis. [Andrew Wakefield] didn’t say it causes autism. He said it causes gut dysbiosis. Incidentally, practically every child who has autism has gut dysbiosis.
This, to me, was huge, because what I’m thinking is, ‘What if glyphosate in vaccines is one of the major contributing factors to vaccine damage?’ If you think about it, mercury was in vaccines back in 1929, but it wasn’t until the late ’90s when GMOs and glyphosate came on the scene that there was a huge spike in autism.
Now, to be fair, there was also a huge spike in the numbers of vaccines given. Our children are now getting 49 doses by age 12 and 69 doses by age 18. The numbers of vaccines our children are getting are also extremely high. But there are children who get one vaccine and they’re damaged after that. You have to look at what changed in the ingredients.”
Another variable that happened in the late ’90s was the dramatic increase in exposure to wireless radiation, and this too may be a significant contributor. There may even be a toxic synergy between the two that is contributing to the health deterioration we now see in so many children. The good news is that you have the ability to make a difference.
Aside from reading Honeycutt’s book, “Unstoppable: Transforming Sickness and Struggle Into Triumph, Empowerment and a Celebration of Community,” you can also learn more by visiting MomsAcrossAmerica.org and signing up for their newsletter. When you sign up, you’ll receive a free mini e-book of “Unstoppable.” Under the Action tab, you can also sign up to volunteer and post events.
“When you have that event, we know you’re serious about getting the word out, so we send you free materials,” Honeycutt says. “You only have to pay for shipping … We have some great flyers, ‘Why Eat Organic?’ ‘What’s Going on With Toxins in Our Food Supply?’ … We don’t make it a scary situation. It’s just informative. We always bring solutions …
You give them a stack of 100 flyers and you say, ‘Could you leave this at your school? Or your library? Or your community center?’ … Just get the word out about what’s happening in our food supply … That’s a great way to get involved … You can also join in the 4th of July parades. It costs anywhere from nothing to maybe 30 to 50 dollars, if you want to buy a banner and also pass out flyers.
You can have movie nights. There are some great movies you can show over an organic potluck. That’s my favorite thing to do. We’ll also connect you with other moms on our Monday Moms Connect Calls at 5 p.m., Pacific time. If you sign up to our newsletter, you’ll get an invitation to that.
We’ve expanded our mission to ‘We educate and inspire mothers and others to transform the food industry and environment, creating healthy communities together.’ By environment, we include anything that’s coming at our kids. If that’s a vaccine, if it’s drugs, if it’s pollution, if it’s EMFs — no matter what it is that’s coming at our kids that’s going to overwhelm them [or] increase the toxic burden — we will address that …
To opt out of this toxic system, we need to not only eat organic food or grow our own organic food. We need to also learn how to take care of ourselves through herbs and plants and opt out of that whole Big Pharma system.”
Moms Across America is also looking for more advisers, including moms who want to help educate others on these topics. If you’re interested, please contact them.
As noted by Honeycutt, everyone has a moment when they decide to take action. For her, the realization that she had the power to make a difference came early. Her father was a great supporter from an early age and when, at the age of 12, Honeycutt came home saying class president elections were coming up, he suggested she should run.
“I said, ‘Me? Why me?’ He said, ‘Why not?’ I was like, ‘Oh. OK. Why not?’ I ran and won,” she says. “If there’s something you want to do or you’re interested in doing, something you want to take on, [ask yourself] why not you? That quote from Lilly Tomlin: ‘I always thought someone should do something about that, and then I realized I am somebody’ — that’s it.
I want everybody to believe that they are somebody; that they are, in fact … amazing … My personal commitment now is to empower community leaders to be global game changers, because that’s what it’s going to take …
Moms who are watching us right now … say, ‘You know what? I’m the one who’s going to get Roundup out of my town. I’m the one who’s going to stop this vaccine mandate in my city. I’m the one who’s going to get my school to have GMO-free food.’
When you do that, you — us, all of us collectively — we change the game around the world … So, sign up to Moms Across America and see where you can start taking action. Because when you do, it’s incredibly fulfilling.”