Monsanto is being blamed for the disappearance of monarch butterflies. The biotech giant’s Roundup Ready herbicide has been noted the mostly likely killer by at least one scientists who has tracked the population of the North American butterflies for many years.
The World Wildlife Fund recently announced statistics for last year’s monarch butterfly migration from Canada, to the United States, and on down to Mexico. The number of butterflies making the annual journey is at its lowest point since official tracking began in 1993. Approximately 60 million Monarch butterflies spent the winter in Mexico this year. Although that figure may still sound like a substantial number, it represents an 80 percent decrease from recent years. Typically, 350 million butterflies migrate to Mexico during the cold weather months.
The decrease was noted not just in Mexico, but in Canada as well. During the warm weather months, the butterflies fly north to Canada. The beautiful creatures are routinely spotted by June each year. In 2013, the first signs of migration were not visible until the middle of July. In areas where residents typically spot 100 butterflies making their annual summer home, only five or less Monarchs were noted this year.
The Monarch population decline has been a gradual progression over the past eight years. The butterfly population numbers mirror what is also occurring among honeybee populations. Although Monsanto recently hosted a bee summit to network with beekeepers and discuss colony collapse disorder, many remain skeptical about their sincerity and feel Roundup Ready and GMO seeds are to blame for the loss of the pollinators. Some researchers and butterfly watch groups feel GMOs may also be to blame for the dwindling Monarch numbers. Monarch Butterfly Fund Chair Donald Davis recently stated that he has never seen butterfly numbers this low in all his many years of studying the population.
Monarch Watch Director Orley Taylor feels the increased planting of GMO corn in the Midwestern region of America is playing a role in the butterfly population decline. He also notes that the growth in GMO crop planting and the increase in chemical herbicide usage kills the milkweed plants that butterflies need to survive.
University of Minnesota biologist Karen Oberhauser has reportedly traced and pinpointed the increased use of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide in both Canada and the United States and compared her research with butterfly population declines. According to Oberhauser, the chemical herbicide has destroyed milkweed across North America. It was once commonly found throughout the migration zone. “We have this smoking gun,” she told Slate. “This is the only thing that we’ve actually been able to correlate with decreasing monarch numbers.”
Do you think chemical herbicides should be far more regulated in order to protect both the monarch butterflies and the honeybee population which is also on a steep decline?
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