Beacon Transcript – Florida Keys has recently approved the initiation of a new study trial that will be using genetically modified mosquitos so as to combat the diseases they carry.
The measure was proposed by the Florida Key Mosquito Control District or the FKMCD and is based on an Oxitec Ltd. study.
The biotech company has created a genetically engineered male mosquito which was called OX513A. The original male mosquito was part of the Aedes aegypti family, or one of the main factors which led to the spread of the Zika, dengue, and chikungunya diseases.
OX513A, the genetically engineered specimens, will be used to control and reduce the spreading of the Aedes mosquitos.
This will be helped by the mating between the natural and engineered mosquitos. The offsprings resulting from such a mating will die following the mutation. The OX513A are also programmed to die after mating with the female Aedes aegypti.
Oxitec has already released a series of trials in Brazil and the Cayman Islands, which showed a 90 percent reduction of the respective mosquito population.
However, besides the fact that the new method has yet to determine its long-term results, it is still quite controversial.
The United States Food and Drug Administration or the FDA approved the use of such genetically modified mosquitos back in the summer.
Still, as the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District presented its new method of combating diseases, it was met with mixed results.
As the Florida Keys residents were asked to vote and state their opinion, the results were quite mixed, with most choosing to oppose the measure.
Following the November 8 vote, Florida Keys residents had various reactions as about 58 percent of the Monroe County residents approved.
However, 65 percent of the Key Haven residents were against the measure which meant a relocation of the study as this was the initial location.
The Florida Keys Key Havens residents which opposed the trial stated its uncertain nature as they felt that they would be experimented on.
Residents argue that the method has not been tested sufficiently so as to know the effects it may have on the environment in the long term.
Another cause of concern was the effects a genetically engineered mosquito bite may have on the stung humans.
Jill Cranney-Gage, a Key West commissioner went to explain both the administration’s intentions and future plans as they are trying to ensure public safety.
With the decision for a genetically engineered mosquito trial such contested by the residents, local authorities decided on a new tactic.
According to Phil Goodman, the district’s board of commissioners chairman, if the board decided to approve the trial, the location of the experiment would be changed.
The as yet final decision in the matter was taken on November 19 as the Florida Keys MCD approved the trial in a 3 to 2 vote.
As such, the new area will the first United States territory to try out and utilize the genetically modified mosquito method of combating diseases such as the Zika and dengue.
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