Moms Across America (MAAM) is a “National Coalition of Unstoppable Moms” who lie to other parents about the safety of modern food and medicine. Founded by blogger Zen Honeycutt in 2013, the group denies the efficacy of vaccines and spreads misinformation about pesticides and genetically engineered food.
Playing the “Mommy Card”
Like many other anti-science groups, Moms Across America aims their propaganda at parents. Honeycutt and her team regularly cite their experience as parents who want to “create healthy communities” in order to justify their scare mongering. Playing the mommy card doesn’t make MAAM’s message anymore accurate, but lies couched in rhetoric about “empowering moms” resonate with many unsuspecting parents. Indeed this sort of condescending marketing is so effective, major food companies have embraced the non-GMO message in hopes of selling potato chips and protein bars to fearful consumers, many of whom are parents.
While MAAM’s fear-based approach has won them a large audience of scared parents, the group has earned itself some fierce critics along the way. The Science Moms, a countervailing group of moms and scientists, has done much to combat of MAAM’s crusading. In 2017 the group produced a documentary for parents which debunks many of the claims that MAAM makes about genetic engineering and vaccines. The Science Moms also maintain a blog and a podcast–“where parenting myths and mommy wars go to die”–which serve as science-based resources for parents who want accurate information about food and medicine.
Pesticides Make Kids Violent?
Among its kookier claims, MAAM alleges that pesticide exposure encourages violent behavior in children and “…may have something to do with the mass-shootings in schools all over America…” The group claims that some of these chemicals are neurotoxins (substances that damage the central nervous system), which can make their way into our food and water supplies after they are used on farms to control weeds and pests. Once children are exposed to these chemicals, MAAM claims, they become aggressive, sometimes attacking their siblings and arguing with their parents.
MAAM cites one rodent study and a handful of anecdotes about Mexican children to support this outlandish link between pesticide exposure and violence. Meanwhile, they ignore the fact that pesticides are thoroughly studied before they can be used in agriculture, and tightly regulated thereafter. Substances that don’t meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rigorous standards are banned. MAAM also says nothing about the risks associated with pesticides used in organic farming, though these chemicals are comparable and sometimes more dangerous than the synthetic alternatives.
It’s also worth noting that almost all pesticides are naturally occurring in the food we eat every day; they are defensive measures evolved by plants to kill pests. Moreover, mental health experts say that “…mass shooters are often mentally ill and socially marginalized,” and neither of these causes of violent behavior has anything to do with pesticide exposure.
Conspiracy Theories, Profiting off Ignorance
MAAM promulgates the conspiracy theory that biotech companies sell dangerous products and lie about it, because they like money more than healthy children. Monsanto profits by “…POISONING our children!” with popular herbicides like glyphosate, reads a 2015 MAAM press release. There is absolutely no sound evidence to back up these dramatic charges, of course. But if selling products to turn a profit is a crime, MAAM should explain why they sell sham detox products and other useless supplements in their prominently-placed online store, none of which have been tested for safety or efficacy.