The crowd at the Monroe County town hall meeting was not intimidated by the panel of experts arrayed on the stage before them.
It was a Thursday evening in December 2014, in the middle of a debate that had already stretched on for years, intensifying along the way. Panelists spoke, the crowd laughed and booed. Sometimes, those on stage grimaced in response.
There were over 60 residents in the audience – many senior citizens, some parents with children in tow. The subject stirring the emotions was not tax increases or failing schools, not crime or gun control.
It was mosquitoes.
Not just any mosquitoes. The topic was a proposal to launch the first trial of genetically-engineered mosquitoes in U.S. history. The idea was to use them to control a mosquito species that carries deadly tropical diseases – yellow fever, dengue, chikungunya, Zika.