Inside Key Haven: GMO mosquito debate reached fever pitch in release town

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Mila de Mier of Key West, Fla., stands outside the Florida Mosquito Control District Office in August 2016.

In the Florida Keys, a referendum fight last year took on all the trappings of a modern-day political campaign – radio ads and zealous canvassers, slogans and, yes, misleading attacks. Seven years after Oxitec first arrived in Florida, the company still awaits a trial, and an answer to the question: Can scientific data trump political scare tactics?

Nearly a year after the referendum, opposition and confusion in Key Haven remain.

“It was made with herpes and E. coli. Let’s just start there,” Mara Daly, an Islamadora resident with one son said in an interview. “So as a mother and not being scientific, I hear those two words and ‘why are you using human diseases and insects with bad stuff? Even if they can’t transmit it to us?’ ”

“I always say that stories trump data and relationships trump stories,” [James Lavery, the Hilton chair in global health ethics at Emory University] said. “Scientists just sort of believe  that their data should prevail at all times because it’s science, but we know from policy that that’s just not the way it works.”

In August, Cinnamon Bloss, a researcher at the University of California, San Diego, broke down the opposition to the Oxitec trial in the Journal for the American Medical Association, analyzing the 2,624 public comments provided to the FDA during its review.

She found 75% of the comments opposed the trial. Of those, 49% cited concerns about ecological safety, 61% discussed human health, 68% genetically-modified organisms, and 30% mistrust of the government or industry.

[T]he Oxitec trial will go on somewhere in Monroe County. A specific location has not been selected, and there is no clear timeframe without the EPA’s approval.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Mosquito battle gets political

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