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Florida Keys Residents Will Vote On GMO Mosquito Test

The Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus mosquitoes can transmit Zika and other tropical diseases.

Residents of a Florida Keys neighborhood will get to vote on whether it will serve as the first U.S. testing ground of genetically modified mosquitoes.

Steve Smith is the vice chairman of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District. He suggested the ballot measure Tuesday.

“I think we need to let these people be heard,” said Smith.

He said he plans to abide by the vote results – even though he thinks the proposed trial is safe.

“I sense that there’s a lot of people who do not want this happening in their neighborhood,” Smith said. “And it is their neighborhood.”

The British company Oxitec has proposed a trial release of its genetically modified mosquitoes in the Key Haven neighborhood, about five miles from Key West.

The Food and Drug Administration has released a preliminary finding that the trial will cause no significant impact to the neighborhood. The public has until May 13th to comment on that finding.

The question will go to voters in August.

WMFE is a partner with Health News Florida, a statewide collaborative reporting on health care.

Health reporting on WMFE is supported in part by AdventHealth.

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