How can we know the release of 500,000,000 Genetically Modified Mosquitoes (GMMs) in the Florida Keys will be safe? For nine years with millions in marketing spent, countless “informational” meetings held, Oxitec has still failed to convince our community that their products are safe. So, why do so many disagreements and unanswered questions remain? How can any controversy be permitted to persist with a proposed experiment of this magnitude? Shouldn’t there be a consensus among scholars, scientists, experts and the public that this new technology is safe?

How can these experts in genetics, medicine, entomology, molecular biology, policy, government entities and mosquito control disagree so aggressively with regulatory agencies, such as the EPA and the FWC, who approved this experiment?

• Dr. Alan Wheeler of the Cayman Mosquito Research and Control Unit: oversaw Oxitec trials in the Cayman Islands, witness to Oxitec’s failed technology

• Dr. William Petrie: former Director at the MRCU, now leads Miami Dade’s Mosquito Control, utilizing Wolbachia, not OX5034

• Dr. Jeffery Powell of Yale University: discovered new hybrid mosquitoes in Brazil were caused by Oxitec GMMs, contrary to prior claims by the vendor

• Dr. Jennifer Kuzma of NC State University Genetic Engineering and Society Center: opposed to premature release, offered assistance to FKMCD in June 2020 and was ignored by Mr Goodman

• Dr. Natalie Kolfer, molecular biologist and founding director of Editing Nature, Yale University: conducted a global initiative to steer responsible development and deployment of environmental genetic technologies such as genetically edited mosquitoes

• In May of 2020, Drs. Kolfer and Kuzma joined 35 experts on genetics, biology, ethics and policy, objecting to this release

• Dr. Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK: opposed to premature release

• Dr. Jack Norris with over 30 local physicians: demanding data from Oxitec, receiving no response

• Governments of Malaysia, Panama, and the Caymans: three countries where Oxitec conducted failed experiments, mandated Oxitec to discontinue trials

• Singapore, China, and Australia: rejecting Oxitec’s technology, instead choosing a more effective, natural abatement solution, Wolbachia

We can always find things to disagree with, but shouldn’t we agree on the basics, like since this release of GMMs is an experiment, it should be tested on volunteer informed adults first? And, should novel complex technology that can affect our public and ecosystem health be evaluated with independent scientific investigation, instead of approved with the minimum level review required by the EPA? Shouldn’t this be, normal operating policy?

We are all observing the caution and care given to the COVID-19 vaccine. Shouldn’t the regulatory agencies evaluating Oxitec GMMs follow similar procedures and protocols?

When a petition objecting to this release, signed by over 30 local medical professionals, is submitted to the Mosquito Control Board, should that be worthy of the simple precautionary test that they requested?

After the first GMM prototype was rejected by a regulatory-friendly EPA, emails received through FOIA requests reveal that Oxitec lobbyist’s effect on the EPA included replacement of the original oversight team with a new “friendlier” group to investigate the new GMM prototype. Shouldn’t we be concerned?

Shouldn’t we be concerned when all of the countries where Oxitec introduced these mosquitoes decided to discontinue use of GMMs?

Shouldn’t we be concerned that the government where these mosquitoes were created will not allow their release within national borders?

Shouldn’t we be concerned that Oxitec’s published experimental results in Brazil were later found to be based on overstatements and exaggerations according to the University of Sao Paulo professor responsible for tabulating the performance?

Shouldn’t we be concerned that all of our governmental regulatory agencies, entrusted with thorough evaluation of Oxitec’s GMMs, did not conduct any independent studies, instead relying solely upon information submitted by Oxitec?

It is indeed remarkable that the members of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control board who voted for this experiment publicly state all of these concerns were completely addressed. Really?

In order to create public support for an experiment that is planned to take place within neighborhoods of the Florida Keys, without the consent of the people being exposed to this newly designed mosquito, Oxitec and the Mosquito Control Board must do a better and more honest job of addressing these concerns.

We urge everyone to write to all of our elected officials and demand that an independent study be conducted to determine the efficacy and legitimacy of this potentially dangerous technology. Please help restore responsibility, transparency and integrity to this process.

PLEASE NOTE: Per the request of the Key West Citizen, extensive supporting documentation was provided to support the statements contained herein. The Citizen opted to attach an associated qualifier to this submission, over our objection. All supporting information is provided at: labeled KW Citizen Info Support.

The Key West Citizen welcomes opposing viewpoints to issues that concern Florida Keys residents. The newspaper makes every effort to fact check claims or statements in contributed content, but can in no way fully do so. The Key West Citizen reminds our readers this content is opinion-based and does not reflect those of the Key West Citizen.