The monarch population has also been affected by more than just agricultural advances. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service statement writes: “Degradation of wintering habitat in Mexico and California has also had a negative impact on the species.”
Roundup destroying milkweed
First marketed in 1973, Roundup eradicates weeds and allows commercial crops to grow unmolested. The main ingredient is Glyphosate, and despite widespread use all over the world, its effect upon humans, other animals and the environment is still debated. Crops are genetically modified by Monsanto to become Roundup Ready; modified, they can survive Roundup — weeds cannot.
The Glyphosate herbicide destroys weeds, as the Center for Food Safety recently concluded, including the common milkweed. And that’s a problem for monarch butterfly caterpillars, which only eat the plant.
Roundup is used heavily by agricultural producers, homeowners and governments. Due to such heavy use, Monsanto’s Roundup is eradicating milkweed, that report stated.
It should be noted Roundup isn’t the only herbicide available that can kill milkweed.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife press release said there once were as many as one billion monarchs in the U.S. but that number has dwindled by 90 percent.
Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, finds the situation “shameful.” In fact, he notes, we knew about the Roundup link in 2000. The report states:
“Writing in the year 2000, Iowa agronomists Robert Hartzler and Douglas Buhler also warned of the impact Roundup Ready crops would have: “The importance of the Midwest in the monarch butterfly life cycle raises concerns over common milkweed populations in corn and soybean fields as the use of glyphosate resistant crops increase. Glyphosate provides an additional herbicide for the control of common milkweed in the growing crop and may reduce common milkweed occurrence in crop fields.”
The report, Kimbrell said, “is a wake-up call,”
“This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system. To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”
Fight to save Monarch butterfly
The press release from the Wildlife Service indicates they are not going to allow the monarch to become extinct. The Service is partnering with the National Wildlife Federation in a new funding initiative and in launching a Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund.
A website has been created for the public to learn about the plight of the monarch and how they can help.
The Service is immediately providing $2 million in funding and intends to get groups and individuals to help with planting native milkweed and nectar plants, again giving monarchs a food source in areas they have dwindled in or disappeared from. Land has been targeted on which to again grow the plants the monarch butterfly needs.
The president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, Collin O’Mara, said that if individuals, groups and state and federal governments get behind the initiative to restore the monarch butterfly he believes they will “ensure that every American child has a chance to experience amazing monarchs in their backyards.”
“By taking action today and addressing the growing threats that are affecting so much of America’s treasured wildlife – habitat loss, pesticide overuse and climate change – we will preserve monarchs and America’s rich wildlife legacy,” O’Mara said.