Voters in Monroe County, Florida, which includes the Florida Keys, have approved the release of genetically modified mosquitos to halt the spread of Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases, Wired reports.
The biotech Oxitec developed mosquitos that carry a defective gene so that when they release male mosquitos and they mate with wild female ones, the offspring don't reach adulthood. In that way, the mosquito population declines along with any viruses they might be carrying. The US Food and Drug Administration gave the company the go-ahead to conduct a trial of their approach, but due to some local opposition, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District put it to a non-binding referendum on the ballot this week.
According to Wired, the measure passed. "There were two precincts in the whole county that voted against the genetically modified mosquito," Phil Goodman, the mosquito control chair, tells the magazine.
As one of those precincts was Key Haven, where Oxitec hoped to conduct its trial, Goodman says that though the trial will go ahead, they'll try to find a different release site.
"The ultimate goal of the trial is to prove what we say we can do, which is reduce the population significantly," adds Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry. "We would expect to reduce the population by about 90 percent, because that's what we've done in all other trials."