Florida Keys delays vote on release of 750 million genetically engineered mosquitoes after public outcry

D. Dukule,  Friends of the Earth,  2020.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) today delayed its vote on the proposed release of genetically engineered (GE) mosquitoes due to concerns over COVID-19. The decision to delay the vote follows public outcry and scientific dispute over the risks posed to public health and the environment by this experimental release. The approval would have permitted the British company Oxitec to release 750 million GE mosquitoes over a two-year period in Monroe County, Florida, starting as soon as this summer.

The delay is an important step for communities in the Keys and environmental groups who have been fighting against release of GE mosquitoes for a decade. The FKMCD vote would have been the last approval officially required, and at least temporarily blocks what would have been the first GE mosquito release ever in the United States. The board members recognized that releasing the mosquitoes in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was compounding concerns about public health risks that community members expressed in their opposition to the release.


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