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FLORIDA KEYS (CBSMiami) – Voters in the Florida Keys are split on releasing genetically modified mosquitoes for disease prevention but in the end, it’s up to Mosquito Control commissioners to decide.

The non-binding poll asked voters if they are in “favor of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducting an effectiveness trial in Monroe County, Florida, using genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress an invasive mosquito that carries mosquito-borne diseases?”

About 58-percent of voters countywide favored the mosquito release but voters in Key Haven, a neighborhood of 1,500 residents where the test would take place opposed it with a vote of 65-percent to 35-percent.

The British biotech firm Oxtic wants to evaluate the effectiveness of their engineered mosquitoes for combating the rising threat of Zika virus which is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito; Florida has reported more than 1,100 cases this year. This type of mosquito also carries dengue fever and Chikungunya.

How does it work?

A genetically modified male mosquito mates with a wild female mosquito. When she has offspring, they never fully develop to mate. Instead they die. Eventually the population of mosquitoes crash.

Since this is a non-binding vote, it means ultimately it comes back to mosquito control commissioners who have to make the final decision on whether GMO mosquitos will be released in Key Haven in spring 2017.

 

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