Environment

Here’s your chance to weigh in on GM bugs

A technician from the British biotec company Oxitec inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. The company hopes to get approval to release its mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.
A technician from the British biotec company Oxitec inspects the pupae of genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Campinas, Brazil. The company hopes to get approval to release its mosquitoes in the Florida Keys. AP

If you have something to say about the possible release of genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys or elsewhere, now’s the time to do it.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday opened the month-long public comment period on the possible release of GM mosquitoes by British biotech company Oxitec, which submitted an application with the EPA in December. The EPA now has until July to make a decision on whether it will issue an experimental-use permit for a trial in the Keys.

Oxitec wants to release its male mosquitoes that are reared with a self-limiting gene. So when the males, which don’t bite, are released into the wild to mate with wild females, the gene is passed on and the offspring never survive to adulthood, according to product development manager Dr. Derric Nimmo.

Should the EPA approve the trial, the genetically modified male mosquitoes would be reared in Marathon, Nimmo told the Keynoter, with a potential release later in the year.

The public comments period is part of the EPA’s process when deciding whether to give Oxitec an experimental-use permit.

Comments must be received on or before April 9 and can be submitted at https://www.regulations.gov/. Or you can mail your comments to OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460-0001.

Katie Atkins: 305-440-3219

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