“Sea-change” required in herbicide use, letter warns
52 Democrat Members of the US Congress have written to President Obama telling him that the chief cause of the 90% decline in monarch butterfly populations is GM herbicide-tolerant crops. Glyphosate herbicides sprayed on the GM crops have wiped out the monarchs’ food, milkweed.
The letter says, “With the advent of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered crops, the use of herbicides like glyphosate has increased from less than 20 million pounds per year in 1992 to over 250 million pounds per year in 2011.
“As a result, researchers now estimate that more than half of milkweed has been wiped out in the Midwestern Farm Belt since 1999, and more than 98% of milkweed has been wiped out from corn and soybean areas in Iowa due to the widespread overuse of glyphosate.”
The Members of Congress say that they appreciate efforts by farmers and others to plant milkweed, but warn that “without a sea-change in how the federal government address the use of herbicides, especially as applied to herbicide-resistant crops, vital monarch habitats will simply continue to disappear.”
The letter recommends bringing monarchs – which were plentiful before GM herbicide-tolerant crops were widely planted – under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. This would give legal muscle to attempts to protect the monarchs and enable sanctions against those who kill or endanger them.
It’s hard to imagine that anything short of a phase-out of herbicide-tolerant crops will save the monarch.
The letter is available here: