On the ballot in Key Haven, Florida: “Are you in favor of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducting an effectiveness trial in Key Haven using genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress an invasive mosquito that carries mosquito-borne diseases?”
Specifically voters are being asked if male mosquitoes modified to pass along a gene that is lethal to the larva of the biting vermin can be released as a way to reduce the population of the non-native Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits the dengue, Zika, and chikungunya viruses. As ScienceInsider explains:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greenlighted the project in August, but local opposition has been so strong that the mosquito control board has held off on approving the release. The ballot referenda—one for Key Haven and another for the broader Monroe County—are nonbinding. But three of the five board members have said they will follow the voters’ decision. Oxitec has been releasing mosquitoes in other countries since 2009; the Cayman Islands, Malaysia, Brazil, and Panama have all hosted field experiments, and the company has reported greater than 90% reductions in mosquito populations in small test areas.
Zika-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are now biting Floridians and visitors in Miami with nearly 1,200 infections confirmed so far. Regular mosquito control efforts using pesticides have not worked and some residents claim to fear pesticide poisoning more than the virus.
So Key Haven residents, you don’t have to vote for one pest over another. Vote YES to modern and ecologically gentle pest control.
If people won’t vote against disease-carrying mosquitoes, what hope is there for the survival of the Republic?