After the Food and Drug Administration gave the project the okay in August, the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District got the final say, and a majority of its board said it would vote in line with the preference of Florida voters.
On Tuesday, voters in the Keys voted by a solid majority to go ahead with a plan proposed by British biotech firm Oxitec to release genetically engineered male mosquitoes in Key Haven, a suburb of Key West.
More than 57% of the 40,000 votes cast in the Keys favored the project.
While a majority of Keys residents voted in favor of the project, 65% of the 639voters in Key Haven, where the trial would be conducted, voted against it.
In the Keys, fear and fiction played into the local discussion as much as-if not more-than-legitimate concern.
“Are you in favor of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District conducting an effectiveness trial in Key Haven using genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress an invasive mosquito that carries mosquito-borne diseases?” the referendum asked.
In the Keys, voters were asked to make a decision about science that might even seem confusing to some scientists.