Recent correspondence in this publication suggests that the duly-elected governing board of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District is somehow behaving recklessly by moving forward with a proposal that will evaluate the effectiveness of an innovative technology in controlling the population of the dengue spreading Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Florida Keys. A proposal that has been considered, studied, and debated for more than a decade.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The FKMCD board has read, studied and listened to all the data available and has determined that the highly regarded subject matter experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and a variety of State of Florida agencies including the Department of Health and Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services got it right when they wisely approved the experimental-use permit that allows the Oxitec genetically modified mosquito project to move forward.
Thus far, the only recklessness on display is from the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition and its willingness to pander in gossip, half-truths,and innuendo, as well as threats to sabotage the study.
The real concern is the one we are currently faced with in Key Largo, where dengue-infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are showing a remarkable resistance to chemical control measures and continue to spread this extremely painful and debilitating disease among dozens of Key Largo residents.
The Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, largely representing the extremist views of a highly vocal minority, is now attacking not just FKMCD and Oxitec, but the growing list of organizations, individuals, federal public health and environmental agencies, state agencies, state and local elected officials as well as local business and community leaders. When facts contradict their false accusations this group chooses to ignore them and continue with baseless claims that misinform and frighten residents and visitors alike.
The FKMCD board has seen and heard enough, and more importantly we understand that new, innovative control measures such as genetically modified mosquitoes and other sterile insect techniques that do not use pesticides, must be brought to the table and evaluated under the terms and conditions set forth by the EPA and others.
And so we shall, beginning with this one. It is our job. It is our duty. It is our commitment.
Stanley M. Zuba, M.D.,FAAP
Vice Chairman, FKMCD Board of Commissioners