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EPA Approves Genetically Modified Mosquito Trial For Florida Keys

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A plan to test genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys has received approval from the federal government.

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For more than five years, a British company called Oxitec has been trying to make the Florida Keys the first U.S. test site for genetically modified mosquitoes. On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has approved an experimental use permit for the trial.

The plan is to release a special version of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with a gene that prevents female offspring from surviving. Females are the mosquitos that bite and can infect people with zika and dengue. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has supported the trial.

According to the EPA, the trial could begin this summer in the Keys. The permit also includes Harris County, Texas. That trial would start next year, according to the EPA.

The proposal has been controversial in the Keys, with many protesting the proposal. But in 2016, 58 percent of voters in a non-binding referendum said they were in favor of the trial.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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