RT: Monsanto monarch massacre: 970 million butterflies killed since 1990

Published time: February 10, 2015 10:52

Monarch butterfly (Reuters/Daniel Aguilar)

Monarch butterfly (Reuters/Daniel Aguilar)

The beautiful monarch butterfly, which is also a major pollinator, is being threatened by herbicides that eradicate milkweed, its primary food source. Now, a desperate rejuvenation program is under way to save the species from possible extinction.

A shocking statistic released by the US Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday summed up the plight of the monarch butterfly: Since 1990, about 970 million of the butterflies – 90 percent of the total population – have vanished across the United States.

READ MORE: Rising suicide rate for Indian farmers blamed on GMO seeds

The massacre provides a grim testimony to the delicate balance that exists between man and nature, and how the introduction of a single consumer product – in this case, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide – can wreak so much havoc. Sold to farmers and homeowners as an effective method for eliminating milkweed plants, Roundup Ready, introduced in the 1970s, is widely blamed for decimating the monarch butterflies’ only source of food in the Midwest.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety, which last weekreleased a report describing the effects of herbicide-resistant crops on monarch butterflies in North America.

“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.”

The widespread death of the monarch butterfly has prompted some groups, like the Center for Biological Diversity, to demand the butterfly be placed on the endangered species list.

Dan Ashe, director of Fish and Wildlife Service, preferred to take a diplomatic approach to Monsanto’s hefty contribution to the problem, saying everyone is responsible for the plight of the monarch butterfly.

“We’ve all been responsible. We are the consumers of agricultural products. I eat corn. American farmers are not the enemy. Can they be part of the solution? Yes,” Ashe said.

“It’s not about this wonderful, mystical creature. It’s about us.”

Photo from wikipedia.org

Photo from wikipedia.org

Monsanto responded to the issue in a blog on its website by saying that listing monarch butterflies as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act “makes for a great news headline,” but ultimately fails to “help solve the problem.”

Rejuvenation efforts

The monarch migrates annually thousands of miles – and over the lifespan of many generations – from Mexico, across the United States, to Canada. To complete this migration, the butterfly is dependent upon the milkweed plant, which provides not only a major food source, but a larval host. However, as US farmland continues to eat up the remaining wild places, there appears to be little left to sustain the monarch.

In an effort to restore monarch numbers, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has teamed up with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to start a milkweed replanting program.

The Fish and Wildlife Service said it will contribute $2 million this year to restoring more than 200,000 acres of monarch habitat, while also “supporting over 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens.” The service will also concentrate rejuvenation efforts on Interstate 35, a 1,568-mile (2,523 km) highway that extends from Texas to Minnesota, which closely follows the monarch’s migration path.

“We can save the monarch butterfly in North America, but only if we act quickly and together,” said Ashe.

The monarch butterfly is not the only pollinator species suffering from the agricultural use of pesticides. Wasps, beetles and especially honeybees have all experienced significant drops in their numbers over the years, which will have adverse effects on America’s crop supply if not soon addressed.

Monsanto controversy

Monsanto has run into controversy before over its glysophate-based Roundup Ready product. It is even being blamed by some for a sharp spike in suicide rates among Indian farmers, many of whom could not afford to continue buying the Ready Roundup seeds and herbicides.

READ MORE: World protests Monsanto grip on food supply chain

The Indian farmers would not receive a loan “if they don’t go with the GMOs,” the head of the Council for Responsible Genetics, Sheldon Krimsky, told RT. “And many of them felt coerced to take the GM seeds. The GM crops have not done as well in all regions of India… [That has led to] much greater indebtedness with the GM crops that did not perform as well.”

Monsanto denies that its seeds have contributed to the plight of Indian farmers.

“Despite claims by those who oppose GMO crops, research also demonstrates there is no link between Indian farmer suicides and the planting of GMO cotton,” the company said on its website.

However, since Monsanto controls about 95 percent of the cotton seed market in India, many small farmers are falling behind on their debt, leading them, critics claim, to desperate measures.

“Two hundred and eighty-four thousand farmers have committed suicide in India because of debt linked to seed and chemicals,” Vandana Shiva, an Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author, said last year ahead of the March Against Monsanto global protests.

“Monsanto have claimed more than 1,500 climate resilient patents, and are hoping to use the climate crisis to make even bigger profits,” Shiva says claiming that “Monsanto wants super profits through total control over nature and humanity.”

Last year, hundreds of thousands of people united around the world to raise awareness over the biotech giant Monsanto’s growing grip on the global food supply chain.

Activists on five continents around the globe, comprising 52 nations, joined the fight under the March against Monsanto umbrella.

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2 Responses to RT: Monsanto monarch massacre: 970 million butterflies killed since 1990

  1. Harvey says:

    Monsanto is also involved the fascist measles hysteria. They are death. So when they are on the side of vaccines, it become clear what vaccines are worth to human beings.

    Measles and Monsanto and Fascism

  2. Ilex says:

    I have ordered from these folks twice already this year. I can’t wait to plant when it’s warmer.

    Free Butterfly Garden Seeds, quick Seed Purchases and Contributions for the Cause.

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    Monarchs need your help NOW! This year AGAIN marks the lowest number of over wintering Monarchs in the Mexican mountains in the last 20 years…and we have only known about their over wintering sites for a little more than 20 years!. There are 97% fewer than at their recorded height and 50% less than there were last year. This is a back to back 50% decline in their overwintering numbers. Researchers are worried we may lose a large part of their migration this year if immediate action is not taken and severely threaten all Monarchs if the pattern continues.

    This is a crisis situation! In 1991, over 75% of the wintering Monarchs from North America froze to death in Mexico as a result of three days of rain and sub-freezing conditions. Their numbers showed some recovery but now there is a nationwide shortage of milkweed. Freak weather patterns destroy habitat and kill millions of helpless Monarchs. But these natural events are not the only challenges that face the Monarch. Widespread pesticide application and genetically modified crops cover important parts of the Monarch’s migratory path and serve as killing fields for any Monarchs that pass through these millions of acres of toxins and biological agents that kill them and their young. They are unintended casualties in a war to protect crops. Are our Monarchs worth our efforts to protect? Do we even know the total effects on our environment from the use of these agents? Monarchs and Milkweed are obvious signs that we need to take action to protect our environment. They show us the fragility and interconnectedness of our world and that the actions of some can have impacts on all of us. We are all part of the problem through the global effort to harness and control Nature in the search for profit. We must research the origins of all our wants and needs to ensure that the products and organizations we support are a true benefit and not a source of misery to the resources used to create them. Our choice to know the source of our purchases gives us the real power to decide what types of people we support and together control over the manner of production used. Please promote the opening of information so that we can make informed choices and change the world with every one. The Monarch habitat must be protected now to ensure their survival, before we see the day when this miracle of nature is only a memory. The Monarchs need your help NOW. Please plant seeds and help to ensure their survival. A Milkweed in every yard!

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    Make the decision to think, act, and be responsible for yourself and all you impact.

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    You are the most important part of any solution!

    SEED UPDATE 2015 – We have a large stockpile of fresh Milkweed seeds right now and thanks to you and the continued sharing on social media are sending out many envelopes every day. When your seeds arrive make sure you have exactly what you needed, Please contact us if there is any questions and please share your seeds, this page and our program with others so we can get the word out.
    Last year we went through 6 million seeds in several months. Northern varieties are especially hard to source as we are in Florida and can not grow our own supply. If we run out of a variety we will continue to ship the next best milkweed varieties to fill your requests. If you have extra seeds to share please contact us. We are happy to pay for postage and your time if you have a good supply. Thank you in advance for all your help. The seed you plant is the food and shelter for a Monarch Caterpillar. Thank you for planting a Home for them.

    Please let everyone know about this site, about how to get milkweed seed, and why it is so important!

    Lifecycle Story of a Monarch Butterfly for FREE! Highly recommended. You will learn all about the care of a Monarch from an egg to an adult butterfly. Download al the pictures of your butterfly in its different life stages. This is a very simple and FUN learning experience. Great for small children and adults too.

    Would you like to save 45 days growing time and have butterflies in your garden right away? Then get some small milkweed plants. Prices include S&H. Just use our Pay Pal check out below, we include free seeds and full instructions too. All plant orders under under $20 shipped by first class mail, weather permitting. We will hold all cold weather shipments. Use our Store Link to view and purchase other items too all sales benefit our mission.

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    Live Monarch will send 15+ Butterfly Garden seeds including Milkweed and growing instructions even if you can not afford a contribution just mail us a self addressed stamped envelope. A save the Monarch contribution is greatly appreciated to help offset the cost of the many seeds we give away, personally plant and plants we provide to schools.

    One dollar goes a long way to help Monarchs, and we will send 50+ seeds per dollar as a thank you. If you need more seeds, send a larger contribution with your request. (These same seed packs sell all over the web for $2 – $4 for only 10 seeds). We send out Asclepias Curassavica (tropical milkweed / red and yellow flowers) It is a favorite egg-laying plant which grows quickly and will sprout many seed pods. We also have a Northern Varieties called Syriaca and Speciosa which can survive the winters, Just request the type you want with the drop down menus below. Our staff will chose the appropriate type if you prefer. Please include a small note below as well if you have a special request. Please give what you can so we can provide materials to as many as possible. To make an online contribution right now use the “Buy Now” button below to go to a secure online form where you can submit your information safely. At different levels of contribution we can offer the items below as thank you gifts. At $20 we send 1000 seeds of your choosing and a personalized letter, at $50 we can include our famous caterpillar castle and 2000 seeds too. Use the links to request the type of seeds you would like to receive or ask us to send the best for your region. We have redesigned this quick check out to include more options and hope you help us continue to ensure that we all have the FREE education and low cost resources to Save the Monarch Migration. Thank you, LMF STAFF.

    You will receive seeds and a full color Monarch raising instruction sheet and growing instructions with your seeds and our heatfelt thanks. There are no butterflies in your return envelope. The information sheet is preprinted for you to have as a reference sheet and to share the education to help Monarchs and butterflies in every life stage.
    Seeds & or Contribution
    Seed Types
    Share your seeds with others?
    Note for us:
    Extra note:

    We support local producers and hope you seek out native varieties.

    If you can not find a local suplier or resource become one. Share your knowledge, plants and seeds.
    Asclepias Curassavica Asclepias-speciosa Asclepias-syriaca
    Asclepias-curassavicaCurassavica Asclepias-syriacasyriaca Asclepias-speciosaspeciosa

    Asclepias-curassavica – This is hands down the favorite egg laying and food plant of Monarchs. This one type we offer as pregrown plants. It is fast growing and produces as much as 1,000 seeds per plant to save and share. Use as a backup food source resource when local varieties are exhausted. The seeds we supply are ready to plant no special preparation necessary. <8-14 day germination at 70F. Asclepias-syriaca – also know as common Milkweed this was once the major diet of the Monarchs. A 4' plant with large thick leaves that feed many Monarchs. Will survive winters and a prolific seed producer. We ship this type first until our supplies are exhausted then switch to speciosa for Northern regions. Germination is variable dependent on source. typically <10- 30 days

    Asclepias-speciosa – A beautiful plant up to 4' tall with large thick leaves that feed many Monarchs. Will survive winters and a prolific seed producer. The seed we supply are ready to plant no special "stratification" necessary. <14 -30 day germination.

    Maps are from http://www.aphis.usda.gov

    Have you seen a warning that Milkweed can hurt the Monarchs or their Migration?: There is an unfortunate campaign underway to change the way you view the world and stop you from taking action to heal it. Science is often misused to make a point that is false or misleading. This is commonly called propaganda ( information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.) Sadly the Monarch has been caught up in the mix for quite some time. If only they did not migrate through millions of acres of GMO crops or land on flowers contaminated by toxins. But that is not our reality. Please do not be frightened by the scare tactics that tell you some Milkweed is "killing, trapping or harming the Monarchs or their Migration". Your efforts to plant Milkweed are appreciated by every Monarch that survives the REAL threats to all of us. If you find questionable articles that seem to "spin" the facts about Milkweed and Monarchs please let us know and read our responses to them here. Agribusiness knows that we find their products and actions objectionable and are looking for every opportunity to convince you that these had nothing to do with the Monarch problem.

    Click here to see examples of articles that we find objectionable and our comments about them. Click here for our responses and investigations

    Attention Educators: We love the hundreds of letters we get from your first grade classes and other students! Keep the letters coming but please remember we have a big expense in seeds and staff time to stuff each of those separate envelopes. We suggest you put all the envelopes or letters into one package and send that to us. You can then donate that postage to the cause instead of wasting postage and many envelopes. This also helps us get the job done faster for everyone. Thank you.

    Attention Press: We love the hundreds and sometimes thousands of letters we get from your readers and hope to be an ongoing part of your outreach to your audience. BUT please remember this is a contribution based seed program that relies on the many small purchases in self addressed stamped envelopes that come in to cover the cost to buy and collect seeds, print, pack, open, read, count, answer questions, stuff, seal and all too often include postage on all those requests. We encourage you to send your readers to our site and or this page and make sure they understand our offering is contribution based. We have funds to cover a small percentage of free seed requests but have unfortunately been inundated from time to time with thousands of free requests for materials that have bypassed our web site and are a significant drain on our small staff and limited resources. Trust us, your active audience will definitely contact you if their requests are not filled, please help us keep this program ongoing.

    Butterfly Picture Contest: We appreciate the pictures, drawings and letters you send to us and would like to display them on our site. To encourage more artistic creations, we are offering a reward for the best in each age range. Just send in your drawings or butterfly crafts, and you will be entered in our Caterpillar Kit Giveaway. Click here to see some of our thousands of letters and get more information on the contest. Anyone can enter!

    Can you afford to do more? Our mission to assist the Monarch butterfly and native animals covers all of North America. Your contributions assist the Live Monarch Foundation to send out many thousands of these Free Seed Packs and Educational materials to children across this continent. It also affords us the opportunity to give back directly to your community in a self-renewing and sustainable way. Any donation over $30 will be eligible to receive a special Monarch thank you gift. At different levels of sponsorship, we can offer the following items or sizable discounts from our online partners and fellow butterfly breeders:

    Special Variety Seed Packs for a complete Butterfly Garden.
    Mature Living Plants ready to plant in your area to attract Butterflies of all kinds.
    Living Monarch Caterpillars and Rearing Kits.
    T-shirts and Butterfly Kites to wear and display proudly.
    Live Adult Monarchs ready to fly free at your next special event or celebration.


    Community involvement: Monarchs are a miracle everyone should enjoy. We have created a wonderful opportunity for your household, neighborhood, school, place of worship, business, community and even state to make a difference today and ensure the future of our Monarch tomorrow. All it takes is your involvement. The Live Monarch Foundation charter enables them to directly compensate you for your efforts to collect funds. A full 20% of whatever funds you or your group collects can go directly to you and your community. You will directly impact your local area with the creation of natural butterfly preserves through the placement of suitable plants and specially bred caterpillars and butterflies which will continue their life cycle in your preserve as it is established. Imagine what it would be like for you to personally act to bring butterflies back to your community and create a self-sustaining resource for the enjoyment and enrichment of so many in your area. Please click here for examples of programs in action.

    You can fix a butterfly's wing! Hospital link Advanced Caterpillar raising information

    Get a 45 DAY jump on your garden with pre grown Milkweed plants $1 EACH!


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