US approves GMO mosquito test in Florida Keys, but no release imminent

AP file photo

MIAMI (AP) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is giving final approval for a field trial releasing genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

The FDA said Friday in a statement that after considering thousands of public comments, its Center for Veterinary Medicine concluded the proposal from biotech firm Oxitec would not significantly affect the environment.

RELATED: Florida offers free Zika test kits for pregnant women

No mosquitoes will be released immediately. Keys officials will hold a nonbinding vote on the proposal for residents in November.

Oxitec releases nonbiting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes modified with synthetic DNA to produce offspring that die outside a lab. The method aims to reduce mosquito populations that spread Zika and other viruses.

Brazil and the Cayman Islands are releasing Oxitec’s insects. The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District wants to test them on an island north of Key West.

OneBlood is now screening all blood donations for Zika. A former Sarasota resident has been diagnosed with the Zika virus. She told News Channel 8 that the virus is painful.

RELATED: What to know about Zika and pregnancy

For personal protection, the CDC recommends using insect repellents with the following ingredients to keep mosquitoes away:

  • DEET – Brands like Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, Ultrathon
  • Picaridin, also known as KBR 30236, Bayrepel, icaridin – Brands like Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, Autan (Outside US)
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) – Repel
  • IR3535 – Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition, SkinSmart
  • The CDC says the higher percentage of the active ingredient, the longer the protection the repellent provides.

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