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by Jill Ettinger
The rampant planting of genetically modified seeds is threatening the survival of monarch butterflies, the orange and black speckled species common—and critical—to Midwest farmers, according to a new study published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity.
The exact cause for the monarch population declines is debated among scientists, but the latest research cites the destruction of milkweed—the plant where the butterfly lays her eggs—as the main cause for the rapidly declining populations. Between 1999 and 2009, milkweed on Iowa farms declined by 90 percent.
Monarchs are migratory pollinators, playing an important role in the propagation of a number of plants throughout the country.
Milkweed is a common target for Roundup, the glyphosate based pesticide manufactured by the biotech corporation Monsanto, and used to kill weeds that threaten its GM Roundup Ready corn and soybeans, which are genetically designed to be resistant to the chemical.
The number of genetically modified crops being grown in the U.S. are staggering: Just this year, almost 95 percent of soybeans and more than 70 percent of corn will be adulterated seeds by biotech giants like Monsanto. The more GM crops are planted, the more Roundup and other glyphosate pesticides are used. According to the EPA, since the Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1993, use of the pesticide has increased at least ten-fold.
But, milkweed may be declining for other reasons, too. Some scientists have pointed to urban sprawl, logging and other environmentally destructive practices besides the increase in genetically modified crops. And, there are other scientists who maintain that butterfly populations are not facing as significant a loss as speculated in the latest study.
Originally posted by hthjason
Well, I'd bet the farm that Monsanto has something to do with this. Watch this:
There are numerous other youtube videos about Monsanto, too.
I live in an area where Monarchs spend the summer and they are clearly down in numbers. Jason
After taking nominations for the Most Evil Corporation of the Year survey from our readers, we hosted an online survey that allowed readers to vote on this question. Over 16,000 readers voted in our online survey from January 5 through 9, 2011.
Astonishingly, fifty-one percent of all votes went to Monsanto as the Most Evil Corporation of the year. This means Monsanto wins the top prize by a huge margin.
But, milkweed may be declining for other reasons, too. Some scientists have pointed to urban sprawl, logging and other environmentally destructive practices besides the increase in genetically modified crops. And, there are other scientists who maintain that butterfly populations are not facing as significant a loss as speculated in the latest study
WINTER HABITAT Pupils from Angangueo, a mountain town in Michoacan state in Mexico, during a celebration of migration of the monarch butterfly. Not anymore. Fields are now planted with genetically modified corn and soybeans resistant to the herbicide Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the chemical to eradicate weeds, including milkweed.
And while that sounds like good news for the farmers, a growing number of scientists fear it is imperiling the monarch butterfly, whose spectacular migrations make it one of the most beloved of insects — “the Bambi of the insect world,” as an entomologist once put it. Monarchs lay their eggs on milkweed, and their larvae eat it. While the evidence is still preliminary and disputed, experts like Chip Taylor say the growing use of genetically modified crops is threatening the orange-and-black butterfly by depriving it of habitat.
“This milkweed has disappeared from at least 100 million acres of these row crops,” said Dr. Taylor, an insect ecologist at the University of Kansas and director of the research and conservation program Monarch Watch. “Your milkweed is virtually gone.”
The primary evidence that monarch populations are in decline comes from a new study showing a drop over the last 17 years of the area occupied by monarchs in central Mexico, where many of them spend the winter. The amount of land occupied by the monarchs is thought to be a proxy for their population size.
“This is the first time we have the data that we can analyze statistically that shows there’s a downward trend,” said Ernest H. Williams, a professor of biology at Hamilton College and an author of the study along with Dr. Taylor and others.
The paper, published online by the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity, attributes the decrease partly to the loss of milkweed from use of “Roundup Ready” crops. Other causes, it says, are the loss of milkweed to land development, illegal logging at the wintering sites in Mexico, and severe weather.