Federal authorities gave final approval Friday to a plan to release genetically modified mosquitoes in Florida, but none of the insects will be immediately dispatched in the state's fight against the spread of Zika.
After considering thousands of public comments, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine concluded the proposal from biotech firm Oxitec to release its mosquitoes in an island neighborhood just north of Key West would not significantly affect the environment, according a statement from the agency.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency also contributed to the FDA's review. Local officials will hold a nonbinding vote on the proposal for Florida Keys residents in November.
The FDA approval came hours before Florida's Department of Health confirmed a new Zika infection within a 1-square-mile zone encompassing Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. That brings the state's tally of non-travel-related Zika cases to 16, in addition to 351 travel-related infections.
In the Keys, Oxitec would release nonbiting male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes modified with synthetic DNA to produce offspring that die outside a lab.