Key West residents oppose plan to release GM mosquitoes to fight dengue fever
The British biotech company Oxford Insect Technologies, known as Oxitec, hopes to release genetically altered male Aeges aegypti mosquitoes into the Keys to breed with wild females. Any offspring would possess a gene that would cause them to die before reaching adulthood, helping to eliminate the dengue-spreading population over generations, according to BrowardPalmBeach.com.
Mila de Mier, a Key West resident, launched a petition drive on Change.org asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to deny Oxitec's application authorizing the release.
"As a community we've already said we don't want these mosquitoes in our backyards, but Oxitec isn't listening," de Mier said, FloridaToday.com reports.
De Mier and other Key West residents want to see more definitive studies on how the genetically modified mosquitoes could affect humans and the environment.
"Nearly all experiments with genetically-modified crops have eventually resulted in unintended consequences: super weeds more resistant to herbicides, mutated and resistant insects and collateral damage to ecosystems," de Mier's petition says, FloridaToday.com reports.
Michael Doyle, the executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, is tasked with keeping the Aeges aegypti population from spreading dengue in the Keys. The illness recently resurfaced in the area after an absence of more than 60 years.
"We are in a weird spot, because we want to get rid of dengue and not make headlines," Doyle said, BrowardPalmBeach.com reports. "Then come GM mosquitoes."