Moms Across America (MAA) was founded by Zen Honeycutt who started the organization after Proposition 37, which called for the labeling of GMOs on food and beverage products, failed to pass California state legislature in 2012.
"Ultimately, as parents what we really want is for our children to choose on their own what is good for them. That’s peace of mind," Honeycutt told FoodNavigator-USA.
"It’s having them be aware of how they feel after eating certain foods. And also make those healthy choices available to them. We have the power to change their health."
With no requirement to label GMOs in place after Prop 37 failed, Honeycutt decided to take matters into her owns hands.
"The next day, I thought about how could I raise awareness with as many people as possible? I’m not going to wait for someone else to do something about this," Honeycutt said.
She decided 4th of July parades where members could promote the labeling of GM ingredients was the most cost-effective and impactful strategy to spread awareness for GMO labeling.
"We could reach hundreds locally and thousands nationally," Honeycutt said.
The message spread like wildfire, according to Honeycutt, with MAA racking up over 300,000 views to its Facebook page every week.
'At first, it was just GMOs...'
MAA's main cause has been to require the labeling of GMOs on all consumer products, but its latest cause has been to eliminate the herbicide glyphosate from the food supply.
Glyphosate is a herbicide (weed killer) used on crops genetically engineered to be resistant to it (eg. soy, corn, canola). However, its presence in breakfast cereals and other products made from oats, wheat, and other conventional (Non GM) crops is due to a steady rise in its application as a pre-harvest desiccant (drying agent),
"At first it was just GMOs. We knew about glyphosate. However, I did not know the extent of the use of glyphosate," said Honeycutt.
And according to The Detox Project, which administers a glyphosate residue test and certifies products as 'Glyphosate Residue Free', choosing Non GMO Project Verified products won't ensure you're avoiding glyphosate.
When Honeycutt learned that even some of the non-GMO products she was giving her kids could contain glyphosate, she said "it felt like a punch in the gut."
"I was of the mind that as long as we eat mostly organic, it’s OK," she said.
To tackle the elimination of glyphosate, MAA created a petition that convinced Costco to stop selling Roundup in its stores and is now petitioning Lowes and Home Depot to do the same.
'...We know it's a big ask'
The Moms Across America Gold Standard, launched today, will evaluate and award brands based on verifiable criteria such as Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified (including no synthetic biology), and Glyphosate Residue Free (tested by The Detox Project). There are three tiers to the gold standard that go on to include extra requirements such as Fair Trade and packaging biodegrability. (For more information on the three criteria levels, see the info box below).
"We know that not every brand can do this and we know it's a big ask, however, it’s what needs to be done," Honeycutt said.
To receive three Gold Stars a brand’s product must:
- Provide total transparency, including “natural flavors,” and not include carrageenan, chlorine dioxide, synthetic food dyes or additives.
- Be certified organic by the USDA or other certifier (or BIODYNAMIC).
- Be glyphosate herbicide tested or certified Glyphosate Residue free.
To receive four Gold Stars a brand’s product must:
- Meet all previous requirements
- Be Non-GMO Project Verified (including no synthetic biology) if the ingredients exist as GMO
- Heavy metal tested for 1.5x or more than the number of heavy metals in standard testing.
- Tested for 2x more than the common pesticides and herbicides in current organic standards.
To receive five Gold Stars a brand’s product must:
- Meet all previous requirements
- Support the transition to Regenerative Organic Agriculture or BIODYNAMIC either through ingredients or by donation of a portion of sales.
- Use Fair Trade practices and pay Fair Labor wages.
- Use Low to No Pollution Packaging-utilizing 100% recycled materials, bioplastics or glass, or have a mail-in recycling program.
The organization is talking to dozens of companies interested in obtaining the seal, according to Honeycutt.
"The ultimate goal is that we don’t need a gold standard," said Honeycutt, but until that day comes, “The Moms Across America Gold Standard will be a symbol of trust and integrity, one that shoppers can rely on and brands can be proud of.”
Are you a mom or dad that reads food labels? Let your voice be heard during a live consumer panel held on Nov. 18. 2019 at FoodNavigator-USA's FOOD FOR KIDS 2019 summit in Chicago. For their time, participants receive a $50 Amazon giftcard, a goodie bag loaded with kids' food and beverage samples, as well as the opportunity to be part of an industry-changing conversation.
To find out more about this opportunity please email Mary Ellen Shoup at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out what we discussed during last year's parents panel.