Legal action threatened against FDA over Oxitec decision – FlKeysNews.com
A coalition of environmental groups is threatening to sue the federal government over the U.S. Food and Drug Administration greenlighting a British company’s plan to release millions of genetically-engineered mosquitoes in Monroe County.
The six organizations — some based locally, some internationally — argue the FDA did not take into account the impact the experiment could have on endangered species living in the Florida Keys. Their lawyers filed formal pre-litigation with the FDA informing the agency a lawsuit is coming if the approval is not reconsidered.
“FDA cannot just arbitrarily approve releasing an entirely novel genetically engineered organism into the environment without accounting for risks,” George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety, said in a statement. “The Florida Keys are home to some of the most diverse and threatened species in our country, and we will not stand by and allow the government to break the law by approving this unprecedented experiment without analyzing its impacts.”
The FDA in August approved UK biotech firm Oxitec’s plan to release the lab-bred mosquitoes. The mosquitoes, almost all male, are genetically engineered to sire offspring that can’t survive. The goal is for them to mate with local female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and eventually wipe out the species, which carries illnesses like Zika, dengue fever and chikungunya. The FDA said the experiment would have no significant environmental impact.
But Kimbrell said the FDA did not use the best scientific and commercial data available before making that determination. The agency also did not consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to discuss the possible effect Oxitec’s trial may have on endangered species in the Keys.
“Threats to endangered and protected species are detailed in numerous comments to FDA, including comments from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting more data. Under