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KEY WEST, Fla. — Florida Keys officials have delayed a referendum on releasing genetically modified mosquitoes to reduce the population of a disease-carrying species.

Federal regulators still have to approve the proposal by the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and the biotech firm Oxitec.

The non-binding Monroe County vote had been scheduled Aug. 30. The district’s five-member board decided Wednesday to postpone it until November.


The Citizen reports that the board also voted 3-2 against a proposal to rescind its authorization of the referendum. Commissioners Phil Goodman and Tom McDonald argued the vote sets a precedent that would force the board to hold referendums on the use of other mosquito control innovations.

Oxitec releases male mosquitoes that mate with wild females but pass on genes that keep their offspring from surviving to adulthood.