The Keys Weekly Newspapers checked in with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) to ask for an update on the Oxitec mosquito trial set to begin soon.
According to the agency, the boxes of genetically modified mosquito eggs have yet to be installed.
In late February, the Keys Weekly reported on FKMCD’s plan to use 15 sites between MM 10 and MM 93. Now, the rollout will begin with six locations, the agency said in an April 5 email.
Previously, the FKMCD has said it will not release the specific physical location of the trial sites. “Since most will be situated on private property at owner request, FKMCD-Oxitec will NOT be providing specific addresses due to privacy concerns and protection of project integrity.”
Both Andrea Leal, executive director of the FKMCD, and Phil Goodman, chairman of the FKMCD, said one reason to keep the locations private is to protect the integrity of the trial. Goodman said he doesn’t want “unruly” opponents of the trial to disrupt the experiment. “We want to get meaningful data to regulators so they can determine if it works or not,” he said.
Oxitec and FKMCD employees are partnering on the trial release of the mosquito, beginning with a list of homeowners who have volunteered to have a “box” installed on their property. Oxitec and FKMCD personnel have been going door-to-door in neighborhoods to gauge interest. Leal said those who have been selected to have a box on the property, and neighbors, will be notified before the start of the trial.
“We have heard from many residents who want to host a box, and a few who do not want to host a box, but not from residents who are concerned about a neighbor’s property,” said FKMCD spokesperson Chad Huff.