Key West Commissioners Speak Out Against GMO Mosquitoes

Opponents of GMO mosquitoes were delighted to hear our Key West City Commissioners speak out loudly against the risky proposal at Wednesday’s meeting. There are some fantastic quotes in this video. Just like you, commissioners are worried about the risks to public health and safety, the lack of scientific evidence from Oxitec, and the undemocratic way Margaret Romero attempted to skirt the November referendum with her proposed resolution — which was roundly defeated.

“What evidence we have heard on a scientific basis is insufficient for us to approve it for the city of Key West… We should stay silent and let the people vote on this… Why should we get in the business of genetically modifying an animal and changing Mother Nature? This is Frankenstein science. This is bad. You don’t know what’s gonna happen here.”

— Commissioner Richard Payne

Seated from left to right, the commissioners are Margaret Romero, Richard Payne, Jimmy Weekly, Mayor Craig Cates, Billy Wardlow, and Samuel Kaufman. Clayton Lopez was not present.


The Mosquito Control Director is asking us to vote on this before the citizens vote on this? I don’t understand that… I’m not a scientist but I can read, and I have questions…

When I was practicing in Judge Payne’s courtroom, if I went to his courtroom and I said, “Judge, rule in this way,” and I presented no evidence, not a piece of paper, nothing, I would expect Judge Payne to do what he would do, and he would say no… Where is the evidence? Why is there not any backup material? Why is there no scientific data? Nothing presented. And we’re asked to approve something based on a 5 minute presentation from [Mosquito Director] Mr. Doyle?…

You say there’s evidence, but not a single piece of paper is on this agenda… And there are a lot of questions I have for Oxitec… For example, why is it that there have been no clinical trials on humans?.. I don’t want to be tested… I have two children and I don’t want them to be tested either…

I wanna know about Wolbachia. Why is Wolbachia not an option?… I wanna know why, in the proposed contract with Oxitec, why are they indemnified?… If there’s nothing to be worried about, why are they limiting their liability?…

Why is there no EIS [Environmental Impact Study] and why is there no backup plan? What if something goes wrong? What if some people do get sick, God forbid? What happens then? Whose gonna cover it? Not Oxitec! Not according to their contract.

— Commissioner Samuel Kaufman


There are too many questions and I don’t understand why Oxitec is here when they’re having a problem with them in Miami Beach. I don’t know why they’re not pushing it on them… Right now I haven’t seen anything that you could trust…

They show you these medicines on TV that have been approved by the FDA and there’s 20-30 side effects that you have to look for… What are the side effects of these mosquitoes?… I have a grandchild now and I have children and I do worry about it. I worry about everyone in the City of Key West.

I would think someone from Oxitec would be here if they support their company and trying to push this on us. I don’t support this.

— Commissioner Billy Wardlow

You’ll also hear Romero try to pass off her backroom resolution (it wasn’t written by or even shown to the City Attorney) by saying it merely “removed the objections” to GMO mosquitoes when it fact it would approve the immediate release ahead of the referendum. But the rest of the council was too smart to be taken in by her.

There are still a number of uncertainties that have not been answered… It’s important that we hear the voice of the community. Let’s hear what the people have to say. As the sponsor of the original resolution, if I wanted it repealed I would have drafted a resolution to repeal it… You, immediately after [Mosquito Director] Michael spoke, said that you were willing to sponsor a resolution to allow the release of the GMO mosquitoes and that should not have happened that way.

— Commissioner Billy Wardlow

We won this battle and defeated the resolution, but we still need your help to win in November. Call your elected officials and tell them you want a Wolbachia trial in Key West instead of GMO mosquitoes, and vote NO on GMO mosquitoes in November.


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