While Florida is focusing on the prospect of the Zika virus getting a foothold in the state, the focus in the Florida Keys is on Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries the disease.
That’s because the British company Oxitec has proposed its first U.S. trial of a genetically modified version of the mosquito in a Keys neighborhood. The Cayman Islands, site of the first-ever field trial six years ago, recently agreed to go forward with releasing the Oxitec mosquitoes, whose male versions are engineered to produce offspring that have a defective gene that kills them.
In the Keys, public opposition against the trial has been vocal. An online petition has garnered more than 166,000 signatures — more than twice the population of the island chain. And at recent meetings held by Oxitec and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board to answer questions about the technology, opponents filled the meeting rooms, holding signs reading “No Consent.”