Many of us vote at polls, write our members of Congress, and assist in legislative efforts to try and eliminate GMOs from our agriculture and food supply. But others, such as Karen Daggett Austin and her cohorts in Josephine County, Oregon, simply take matters into their own hands. Through their strictly volunteer efforts, they have helped ten of their local restaurants earn various levels of “GMO-free” status, and have also introduced local ballot initiatives to restrict the growing of GMO crops. It’s the type of revolution that could, if practiced nationwide, curtail the GMO issue completely.

Taking charge

It was only a year and a half ago that Austin and two of her friends decided to take action in their local area. “Back in October of 2012, three local ladies—one of them being myself—connected through a newspaper article on GMOs,” Austin told Organic Connections. “We started meeting, and decided that we needed to do something in our community to raise awareness about GMOs in general—to address potential toxicity for families and children, and those kind of things. I’m a grandmother and one of the other gals is a mom, so we had a vested interest.”

The group began giving presentations around the county, raising awareness on the issue, and GMO Free Josephine County was born. In its short life it has proved incredibly popular: the group now has a mailing list of 1,200, along with 2,500 followers on Facebook.

Part of its publicity—and raised curiosity from the public—came about from action the group took right at its inception. “We have a couple of ballot initiatives for GMO crop restriction,” Austin said, “one that we sponsored in our county and one in the adjoining Jackson County, which are going to be on the May ballot.”

GMO Free Josephine County is also assisting in a state ballot GMO-labeling initiative that will be before Oregon voters this November.