The Fragile Populations


Sharp Decline of the Monarch Butterfly

A new census found this winter’s population of North American monarch butterflies in Mexico was at the lowest level ever measured. University of Kansas insect ecologist Orley R. Taylor talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the planting of genetically modified crops and the resulting use of herbicides has contributed to the monarchs’ decline.

Taylor talked about the factors that have led to the sharp drop in the monarch population. Among them is the increased planting of genetically modified corn in the U.S. Midwest, which has led to greater use of herbicides, which in turn kills the milkweed that is a prime food source for the butterflies.

“What we’re seeing here in the United States,” he said, “is a very precipitous decline of monarchs that’s coincident with the adoption of Roundup-ready corn and soybeans.
The glyphosate used in agriculture has tripled since 1997, when they first introduced these Roundup-ready crops. The developers of these crops not only provided the seeds that were glyphosate-resistant, but they also provided the glyphosate — the Roundup. And, boy, that was a pretty good system. You could make money on both, right?

It’s a collateral damage issue. And one of the things that we’re worried about now is that it looks like there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage from the use of various herbicides and pesticides coming down.’

In fact, insects such as butterflies, moths, bumblebees and mayflies have been disappearing for a long time, although hardly anyone except specialists has noticed or cared . . .

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on Imbuteria's Blog.

  2. Bit by bit we are destroying our environment. Folks are so distracted that they fail to see or hear the creep towards “Easter Island”. Collapse is an important book in the progression of Silent Spring et al. Should be required reading in schools. Sad.

    • And right this minute every property owner on my street is allowing the hedges & trees to be decimated by chain-saws & other power-tools in the HEART OF NESTING SEASON. The millions of gallons of water wasted to grow them, then the millions of hours blasted by noise & dust as they are prinked & zapped into stupid little shade-less shapes, and yet for not one day are these deformed green objects allowed to serve the purpose for which nature intended them and provide a safe haven for the little creatures who are trying to raise their babies. All March I heard birds singing through the night in excitement, but the idiot population of humans in the world today can’t allow them a moment’s peace.

  3. Reblogged this on Mary Beth Bass.

  4. Lovely, poignant image and salutary warning. Thanks, as ever.

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