Miami Beach asks FDA for 'emergency permission' to release GMO mosquitoes to contain Zika transmissions

Miami Beach officials have sent a letter to the FDA requesting emergency permission to release genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika-carrying mosquitoes in the city, according to a Miami New Times report. While the FDA did not grant the request, it has encouraged Miami Beach to directly acquire the mosquitoes, engineered by Oxitec, a biotechnology company.

The FDA stated that it did not have the authority to issue an emergency permission request of this nature, and thus suggested the city reach out to Oxitec directly. It is not clear if the city has reached out to the company as yet, according to the report.

Local transmission from Zika-carrying mosquitoes in Miami Beach is on the rise, and unlike in other areas of Miami-Dade County, the aerial spraying of the controversial pesticide, Naled, has not cleared these mosquitoes.

Proponents of the genetically modified mosquitoes believe that they could eradicate the Aedes aegypti, the Zika-carrying variety. However, critics worry that the GMO mosquitoes could pose a threat in themselves and adversely affect the ecosystem.

Last week, Tom Frieden, MD, the director of the CDC, noted that the spread of pathogens like Zika is the "new normal" and that "Zika and other diseases spread by Aedes aegypti [mosquito species] are really not controllable with current technologies. So we will see this become endemic."

On Nov. 2, the Florida Department of Health reported 1,114 cases of Zika infections in the state.

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