The results are in and the people of Key Haven, target of the unsafe and unnecessary GMO mosquito test, have overwhelmingly voted against it. In Key Haven, more than 65% voted NO.
65.41% of Key Haven residents voted NO. These are the people who live in the proposed test area. Source: Monroe County Supervisor of Elections
Astonishingly, the vote is considered “non-binding” by the Mosquito District, which has vocally proclaimed through its chairman Phil Goodman their own desire to conduct such a test, regardless of how the public feels. It would be a grievous miscarriage of democracy if the District were to decide to release genetically modified mosquitoes, created from 6 different species in a laboratory, on people who have voted NO.
The United Nations framework for the use of genetically modified insects (yes, such a thing actually exists) requires human consent for human experimentation. Today, the people of Key Haven have declared that they will not be willing participants in a GMO mosquito experiment.
Why did Key Haven vote no? Not only are they the neighborhood most directly affected by the test, they’re also the best informed. Residents of Key Haven have taken the time to learn about the real risks of GMO mosquitoes, including the rise of competitive species which only makes things worse. For these reasons and many others, informed citizens have chosen not to participate in any more of Oxitec’s dreamy sales plan.
The rest of Monroe County, which includes all the island communities from Key Largo to Key West, was also permitted to vote on the issue. Although allowing any city to vote on the use of GMO animals is absolutely unprecedented, adding the entire county into the mix was really an attempt by the District to side-step the issue. In their minds, adding this second ballot question would allow them to simply move the test elsewhere, even if Key Haven voted no, as they did.
This approach seemed like a good one to the District, because the rest of the Keys was not nearly as informed about the issue as Key West and Key Haven. After all, the subject has been on the radar here for nearly five years. Bring up GMO mosquitoes in the rest of the Keys and you can hardly find anyone who knows why there would be any concerns.
Oxitec, through their various PR companies, used this lack of information to sell a Zika scare based on outright lies and scientific falsehoods. It seems the company’s portfolio of failed GMO products has caused such desperation that they’re willing to do almost anything to buy the vote here, including making secret deals with our former Mosquito District Director, sending out canvassers to pretend to be concerned local citizens (while paying them $15/hr), and even robocalling every home in Monroe County with a rigged survey that wouldn’t let people answer “NO.”
42.14% of all Florida Keys residents voted NO on GMO mosquitoes.
Source: Monroe County Supervisor of Elections
This is the way, and the only way, that residents of the rest of the county could be convinced to permit a GMO mosquito test. But the results there were not as spectacular as Oxitec hoped. In fact, 42% of residents in all of Monroe County rejected the experiment. And this is without the “benefit” of being dragged through the issue since 2012. The world of GMO mosquitoes is so small that people in Miami don’t even know it’s an issue and they’re actually next on the target list.
The most important factor in raising public awareness has been the work done by our blog, our Facebook page, and our partner organizations, Citizens for Safe Science and the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition. But that work, of out necessity, has been focused in Key West and the Lower Keys. There is no way that our small group of individuals could fully reach the 165 mile span that is Monroe County and deliver our educational message to every voter. In spite of our limited resources, more than 40% voted NO.
Now is the time for all the people of Florida to become informed about the real risks of GMO mosquitoes and the litany of backroom deals that come along with them as part of the baggage. While our rights as individuals are diminished every day, we still have some left. The Key Haven GMO mosquito vote was the first of its kind in the world. Do not let it become the last. Take a stand in your own community against GMO mosquitoes!