Rainforest Rescue

Monsanto vs. monarchs – millions of butterflies disappearing

Milkweed is crucial to the monarch's survival. (Image: Rachel James – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Monarch butterflies are one of the most beautiful and iconic insects in the world, and they are in serious trouble. The monarch butterfly population in North America has been shrinking at an alarming rate. Why? A major culprit is the use of herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup on genetically engineered (GE) crops, which is destroying a significant portion of their breeding habitat.

That’s why the US NGOs Center for Food Safety and Center for Biological Diversity have just co-filed a ground-breaking legal petition – joined by Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and renowned monarch scientist Prof. Lincoln Brower – to list the monarch butterfly as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). If listed, the U.S. government would be required to take urgent and significant action to protect monarchs from further declines.

Rainforest Rescue supports this initiative. Please add your voice to the petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in support of protecting monarchs under the ESA.

We all know that Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops and the pesticides they promote can wreak havoc on our farms, food, and environment. But what many people may not know is that they are also playing a big role in the rapid disappearance of monarchs.

Herbicides like Roundup don’t kill monarchs directly, but rather kill their primary food source and habitat. Milkweeds are critical to the monarch’s survival because they are the only plants monarch caterpillars will eat. But thanks to the rampant use of Roundup on Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops, milkweed plants in the heart of the monarch’s range have been decimated. Fewer milkweeds mean fewer monarchs.

So we are faced with a historic choice: Do we want Monsanto or monarchs? It is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot have both.
 To protect monarchs we must protect and reclaim their critical habitat, and reject Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GE crops, and the unsustainable, pesticide-intensive, industrial agriculture system promoted by them.

Though there are some good voluntary programs to restore milkweeds and protect monarchs, there are no mandatory regulatory mechanisms that adequately protect the monarch butterfly. Listing monarchs under the ESA will ensure that these iconic butterflies get the protection they need.

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