There Were 1 Billion Monarch Butterflies. Now There Are 93 Million.
There Were 1 Billion Monarch Butterflies. Now There Are 93 Million. Without pollinators, there is no agriculture—and without that, there is no food.
The CPPC is serious business. Between the destruction of monarch habitats through pesticides, most notably milkweed, and the ongoing mystery of colony collapse among the bees, American agriculture is endangered. At Tuesday night’s event, it was made plain that without agriculture, there is no food, and with pollinators, there is no agriculture.
In 2017, according to the Center For Biological Diversity, the overwintering population of monarchs dropped by a third. The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food.
The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) on Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in the Midwest’s corn and soybean fields. In the past 20 years, scientists estimate, these once-common, iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds. Logging on the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds is also an ongoing concern.
Scientists have also identified threats to the monarch during the fall migration including lack of nectaring habitat and insecticides.