Elected officials in Tampa today asked Washington, DC for emergency permission to release GMO mosquitoes to be grown in the Hatching & Rearing Unit inside the public Mosquito District headquarters in Marathon. This comes just days after the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District authorized the use of the Marathon lab as an Oxitec commercial production site for any community which “needed to combat Zika.”
A Tampa Bay Times article cites local Key West opposition to the production or release of GMO mosquitoes as an impediment to their progress and requests that the US Dept. of Health and Human Services officially declare an “emergency” which would allow them to circumvent the November referendum and, in fact, the entire Key West testing process. Although not disclosed in either the newspaper article or official request itself, we know the mosquitoes would have to be grown in the Keys and trucked to Tampa because the Marathon HRU is Oxitec’s only FDA-approved mosquito rearing facility in the United States. There is simply nowhere else to grow them and, we hope, there would be tremendous public objection to building such a facility in most communities.
Tampa’s civic leaders have decided to go ahead with releasing GMO mosquitoes and want to use the public buildings and employees of Key West to do so. Key West has already spoken out against this plan. Do the people of Tampa feel the same way