Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mosquito rearing facility receives approval

Did you know that Palm Beach County used to be part of a much larger area known as Mosquito County? That was long ago before any significant non-native, "pioneer" population arrived here. Efforts are being made now to use "modern" methods to reduce or eliminate this human menace from the Keys.

If you have ever visited the Everglades or the Florida Keys during those 'special' times of the year, you know how terrible mosquitoes can be. From spraying to fuming, DEET, netting, eliminating fresh water sources, body lotions and sprays, all these measures are temporary at best from relief when outside. Bill Gates on his blog wrote about mosquitoes in a post titled, "The Deadliest Animal In the World" which you can read here. Could there be relief on the horizon? A permanent solution? Here are two excerpts from an article by Timothy O'Hara from the Florida Keys News on genetically modified mosquitoes possibly solving our mosquito problem for good. Read on:
A test release of genetically modified mosquitoes on Key Haven [a mile east of Key West] could happen as early as February. And the British-based Oxitec company will begin building a mosquito-rearing facility in Marathon later this month.
Oxitec proposes to alter male mosquitoes to make them "sterile," so when they are released and mate with a female mosquito in the wild, her offspring would die in the larval stage.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has agreed to allow Oxitec to start construction of a mosquito-rearing facility at its Marathon office in anticipation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving a test release of the genetically altered mosquitoes.
[later in the article...]
The mosquito control agency and Oxitec are looking at Key Haven as a possible testing site. As a peninsula, it would be easy to monitor and control the mosquitoes there, Doyle [Michael Doyle, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District executive director] said.
A Mosquito Control District survey of 249 Key Haven residents -- some 56 percent of its population -- found that 43 percent of residents supported the release; 16 percent strongly supported it; 32 percent were neutral; 6 percent opposed it; and 3 percent were strongly opposed, Doyle said.
By the numbers in the last paragraph, 91% of the public either support, strongly support, or are neutral about this experiment. A very big hill to climb for those in the fear-mongering business when it comes to genetically modifying anything, especially my luscious kiwis I get at our local Publix.