Daily News Archive
Affecting Monarch Butterfly Migration
(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2004) The number of
monarch butterflies making the annual migration from Canada and the
United States to Mexico is the lowest it has been in fourteen years,
experts say. This drastic decrease is apparently due in part to herbicide
use, according to The
Each fall, hundreds of millions of monarch butterflies make the trip
to the area near Mexico City. This year the butterflies are funneling
through a narrow 300-mile-wide strip from Oklahoma City to Del Rio before
going into Mexico. Mike Quinn, a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department, stated, “We've had very few reports outside that narrow
band…The biggest single report was 5,000 in San Angelo. All along
Interstate 35 from Dallas, we've primarily had reports of single ones.”
Of course, weather is a very important factor in the monarch migration.
A freeze last February killed many monarchs in Mexico, decreasing their
numbers this year.
In addition to weather, biotechnology and herbicide use also are affecting
the monarch butterflies, according to Quinn. Monarchs feed on nectar
from wild milkweeds, a plant that is being killed by farmers’
use of herbicides, which has become more abundant as they are growing
bio-engineered herbicide-resistant crops.
Another type of genetically engineered crop can harm monarch butterflies:
those that actually contain an insecticide. Bt incorporated plants can
cause adverse effects to beneficial insects that consume them. In a
study published in Nature, Cornell University scientists found that
monarch butterfly caterpillars are harmed by consuming Bt corn pollen
dusted on milkweed. European scientists have found that beneficial insects,
such as ladybugs and green lacewings, are similarly harmed. A 1997 study
published in New Scientist found that honeybees may be harmed from feeding
on genetically engineered canola flowers.
TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from
genetically engineered ingredients and crops by buying USDA certified
organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GM food. Support local
efforts to prohibit growing GM crops. Contact your U.S.
Senators and U.S.
Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael
Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann
M. Veneman. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Genetic