Research from scientists at the Greenpeace International Science Unit , with its laboratories in University of Exeter in the UK have produced evidence that the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) crops such as the herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready corn and soy is having adverse effects on farmland plants. As the use of agro-giant Monsanto’s Roundup grows, and is coming much stronger formulas, researchers now believe that this is a major factor in the decline in monarch butterflies.
The biggest issue with the powerful Roundup herbicide is that it kills all plants in its path, except for the GE crop. Unfortunately, that also goes for milkweed, which is the only plant that monarch butterflies lay their eggs. After hatching, the monarch caterpillars use milkweed for food. Milkweed used to be able to sprout up in between rows, but use of powerful herbicides have all be eliminated it from farmland. This means that the monarchs must fly further just to find a place to lay their eggs. The extended search for milkweed leads to a depletion of body fat—this leads to fewer eggs. Some may die before ever laying eggs.
There things that can be done, such as planting native plants. The folks at Appleseed can give you the run down on how native plants co-evolved with the native wildlife and form the foundation of habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies. [Read more…]