Split Decision in Keys Mosquito Vote

For months people in the Keys have been arguing about a proposed trial of GMO mosquitoes in Key Haven, a neighborhood about five miles from Key West. NANCY KLINGENER / WLRN
For months people in the Keys have been arguing about a proposed trial of GMO mosquitoes in Key Haven, a neighborhood about five miles from Key West.
NANCY KLINGENER / WLRN

With most of the vote in (32 of 33 precincts) the GMO mosquito question had split results.

In Key Haven where the test would take place, it’s a resounding no – 65 to 35 percent. But the rest of the county said yes – 58 to 42 percent.

Listen to the story here:

GMO or Not?

By Dave Young (Flickr: 34 - dehorned dairy cow) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Dave Young (Flickr: 34 – the dairy cow) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
There are a wide variety of methods used to encourage the traits that we want in our food, whether from plants of animals. Some of these methods involve inserting DNA from one species into another (transgenic). However, others involve simply selective breeding (this has been done for centuries). It’s the reason that we don’t eat tiny apples, for instance (they’ve been bred to be large and juicy). In the case of cows, one undesirable trait for both livestock and dairy cows is the presence of horns, which can be dangerous for both the farmer and the animals themselves. The present procedure for removing the horns is painful and controversial. For livestock the trait of hornlessness has been selectively bred into the animals. However, it was not practical to breed milk cows with the beef-producing animals since it caused other undesirable changes in milk production. Therefore, scientists have managed to edit the genome of the dairy animals without introducing foreign DNA. Read the complete article by Michael White.
So, the question remains: Are these animals GMOs, since the net result was to encourage a trait that was already present in the genome?

Survey: Most Florideans
Favor GM Mosquito

Wikimedia Commons - Aedes_aegypti_mosquito
Wikimedia Commons – Aedes aegypti mosquito

Between July and November 2015, a survey of those living in a Key West neighborhood revealed considerable opposition to using genetically modified mosquitos (sample size was 89 households).

In contrast, a recent Annenberg Public Policy survey (509 Florida respondents) tips the scale in the other direction. The Florida respondents were more likely to lean in the direction of GM mosquitos than those from other parts of the country. The center has released a guide for broadcasters covering the issue (there is some useful information for others in there as well).