Florida legislators urge feds to use genetically engineered mosquitoes to fight Zika


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
With the number of locally transmitted Zika cases continuing to climb, 61 members of the Florida House have signed a letter urging federal officials to allow the use of genetically engineered mosquitoes to help combat the virus.

Incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and incoming Minority Leader Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, announced last week they would urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the federal Food & Drug Administration to approve use of the genetically engineered mosquitoes developed by the company Oxitec. Mosquito-borne Zika, which emerged last year in South America and has spread to Florida, can cause severe birth defects.

The letter, delivered Tuesday to the federal agencies, was backed by a bipartisan majority of the 120-member state House.

"We ask you to stand by the people of Florida in our time of need and use your legal authority to grant us access to a new source of hope in the fight against the spread of this terrible virus," the letter said.

Information on Oxitec's website said the company's mosquitoes are genetically engineered so that their offspring die before adulthood. The company's male mosquitoes, which do not bite or transmit diseases, are released to breed with wild female mosquitoes, and the offspring die, reducing the mosquito population, the website said.

The Florida Department of Health reported Tuesday that the state has had 56 cases of locally transmitted Zika. The state also has 577 travel-related cases and 80 infections involving pregnant women. Travel-related cases involve people being infected elsewhere and bringing the virus into the state.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at feedback@orlandoweekly.com.

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.