Roundup Shrinks Monarch Butterfly Population


by Shicana Allen

The beautiful, regal North American Monarch butterfly—chosen as an official insect by seven U.S. states—is dwindling in numbers and is currently at the lowest level ever measured: 18 times less than in 1996.  One main reason?  Genetically engineered crops are destroying its habitat and disrupting its food chain. Starting in 1997, when Midwestern farmers started spraying Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide on GMO soy and corn fields, one of the “weeds” they killed off was the milkweed plant, the primary source of food for Monarch butterfly larvae. Since then, the agricultural use of this dangerous herbicide has tripled, now being sprayed on an additional 25 million acres of Roundup-Ready crops. Other factors contributing to the species’ decline are illegal logging in Mexico where the insect spends its winters, and extreme weather patterns resulting almost certainly from man-made climate change. The beloved Monarch not only plays an integral role in the ecosystem, but has brought economic benefit to Mexico and other regions, where it is a major tourist attraction. Farmers and gardeners are now being encouraged to plant milkweed and other native plants to boost the butterfly’s numbers.

Shicana Allen has been a health, environmental, and food safety advocate, writer, and public speaker for over 20 years

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