Ethan A. Huff
July 29, 2011
You have likely seen them dancing through the air and gracing the petals and leaves of various plants and shrubs. But a new study published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity says that the popular Monarch butterfly, which is an absolute necessity for farmers, is on the decline. And the cause? Genetically-modified (GM) crops like corn, soy, and cotton, which today blanket millions of acres of American cropland.
Though not necessarily in the same vein as bees and bats, Monarch butterflies are still considered to be migrational pollinators. They travel very long distances and often inadvertently pollinate various flowers and plants. But Monarchs rely on milkweed plants to breed — milkweed is actually the only plant on which Monarch larvae can feed — and the use of pesticides in GM agriculture is contributing to the elimination of milkweed, and thus the elimination of Monarchs.
The study explains that during the 2009 – 2010 Monarch overwintering season, which represents the time during which eastern North American Monarch butterflies hold out through the winter in warmer Mexico, populations reached an all-time low. And while they increased slightly the following year, they still remained at dismally low levels.
Besides loss of forest in overwintering areas and continued land development, the report tacks the “expansion of GM herbicide-resistant crops, with consequent loss of milkweed host plants” as the culprit in declining Monarch butterfly populations. After all, Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide specifically targets milkweed for termination, and roughly 150 million pounds of the poison are applied to US cropland every year.
If GM crops continue to take over the whole of agriculture with great strides, as they continue to do, Monarch butterflies (as well as bees and bats), may eventually become extinct. And without these pollinators, of course, it will be no longer possible to grow food.
Sources for this story include:¬†http://www.growswitch.com/blog/2011…
This article was posted: Friday, July 29, 2011 at 2:53 am