Mia del Mer of Key West, Florida has created a petition on Change.Org to Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and Management and the FDA. The Key West community is against the release of GMO mosquitos by a British Company called Oxitec. Oxitec is still trying to force their mosquitos into Florida against the wishes of the community. Here is a message from Mia about the current situation there. I hope that you will read her message and sign the petition at the end of this letter.
Right now, a British company named Oxitec is planning to release genetically modified mosquitoes into the fragile enviroment of the Florida Keys. The company wants to use the Florida Keys as a testing ground for these mutant bugs.
Even though the local community in the Florida Keys has spoken -- we even passed an ordinance demanding more testing -- Oxitec is trying to use a loophole by applying to the FDA for an "animal bug" patent. This could mean these mutant mosquitoes could be released at any point against the wishes of locals and the scientific community. We need to make sure the FDA does not approve Oxitec's patent.
Nearly all experiments with genetically-modified crops have eventually resulted in unintended consequences: superweeds more resistant to herbicides, mutated and resistant insects also collateral damage to ecosystems. A recent news story reported that the monarch butterfly population is down by half in areas where Roundup Ready GM crops are doused with ultra-high levels of herbicides that wipe out the monarch's favorite milkweed plant.
What about our native species of Florida Keys Bats. Are there any studies being conducted to see if these mosquitoes will harm the native bat population?
Why would we not expect GM (genetically modified) insects, especially those that bite humans, to have similar unintended negative consequences? Will the more virulent Asian tiger mosquito that also carries dengue fill the void left by reductions in A. aegypti? Will the dengue virus mutate (think antibiotic resistant MRSA) and become even more dangerous?
There are more questions than answers and we need more testing to be done.
Will the public be able to stop this program from happening if we don't want it? We were told that "public opinion would be taken into account."
Dengue fever has been absent from Key West since 2010, which indicates the current methods of control and public education are working. What's the rush for this radical approach?
Where is the third-party, peer-reviewed research on effectiveness and safety of GM mosquitoes other than Oxitec's own claims of success? Don't let Oxitec bully our community! We say no to genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys!