Monarch butterflies are known for the incredible mass migration that brings millions of them to California and Mexico each winter. North American monarchs are the only butterflies that make such a massive journey—up to 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers). The insects must begin this journey each fall ahead of cold weather, which will kill them if they tarry too long.
Major press outlets worldwide reported last year that the butterflies are in “grave danger“. Their population has reached the lowest numbers ever recorded. Now, yet another independent study has linked the monarch’s decline with Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide. This corporate giant knows what it’s doing. But, Monsanto says we should balance the butterfly’s survival with what it calls “productive agriculture” According to a study by the Center for Food Safety, close to 99 percent of milkweed in the Midwest’s corn and soybean fields has been destroyed by pesticides such as Monsanto’s Roundup, the most common herbicide in American agriculture today, used in tandem with the company’s genetically-engineered Roundup Ready crops. Milkweed plants are the only spots where monarch butterflies lay eggs and the only food source for their larvae.
“In the 1990s, a billion butterflies were making the epic annual migration from the forests of central Mexico to the plains states of the American Midwest and Canada. There are now an estimated 56.5 million monarchs remaining—a drop of 80 percent, according to the Xerces Society, a pollinator conservation group. Many place blame for the decline—which has led to calls for listing the butterfly as an endangered species—with the agrochemical companies selling the GMO seed for the corn and soy that blanket so much of the Midwest, and the weed killers the crops have been engineered to withstand. While milkweed used to grow alongside row crops, with little impact on yields, the increased use of herbicides such as glyphosate—20 million pounds were used in 1992, 250 million pounds in 2011—have made the once-pervasive weed something of a rarity. And in Iowa, where 30 million acres of the state’s total landmass of 36 million acres are cultivated, there’s little wilderness left that’s untouched by agrochemicals.” (Willy Blackmore, April 1, 2015)
This species considered as endangered due to decline in its population. Recently, Biotech giant Monsanto announced it would spend $4 million on efforts to save the monarch butterfly population after the company’s pesticides has been accused of destroying the insects’ habitat and bringing them to the brink of extinction.
Here is more information about Monsanto’s contribution for saving this species
” Monsanto, Blamed for Killing Monarchs, Donates Millions to Save the Butterflies” written by Willy Blackmore is TakePart’s Food editor.
Image courtesy: http://whyfiles.org/