The Fragile Populations

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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.’

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/tracking_the_causes_of_sharp__decline_of_the_monarch_butterfly/2634/


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 . . . http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/michael-mccarthy-this-isnt-just-about-bees-ndash-it-affects-everything-2189269.html

https://secretgardening.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/bees-facing-a-poisoned-spring/

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Gardens “a balance of poetry and practicalities”

Thomas Bewick 1753 – 1828

A Little History of British Gardening
by Jenny Uglow

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/jun/19/featuresreviews.guardianreview22

‘… a prosperous farmer’s wife was in charge of “ordering the kitchen garden; and keeping the fruits, herbs, roots and seeds; and moreover watching and attending to the bees”. There was art and invention in the garden too, and Uglow delights in telling us how the housewife worked “like a scientist with glasses and alembics, distilling purges and cough medicines as well as conserves and pickles”. They made perfumed oils for scents and soaps. Marigolds and violets were candied for sweets; elderflowers, irises and mallows made into lotions for softening wrinkles and rhubarb in white wine was used for dying hair blonde.

By the 1700s gardening had become a topic for coffee-house chat, with fashions provoking strong reactions from commentators. Alexander Pope, writing in a new periodical called the Guardian, decided that “persons of genius preferred nature”, whereas “people of the common level of understanding are principally delighted with the little niceties and fantastical operations of art”.’

Jill Sinclair

Paris in the Springtime

On Sunday the French Young Farmers union brought the sights and scents of the countryside to Paris as its members covered a long stretch of the Champs-Élysée with miniature fields of wheat and sunflower.
“You can see that they’re cut off from nature,” said Daniel Millet, 66, returning down the avenue with his wife from a hike outside the city. “People are truly curious about what they’re seeing.”

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/24/world/europe/24paris.html