(NaturalNews) Monarch butterflies, sometimes referred to as the “king” of butterflies, are struggling to stay alive, their situation so dire that the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a petition requesting that they be considered an endangered species that requires special protection to survive.
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is reviewing the petition and will decide whether it’s necessary and what more can be done to restore their population, reports The Washington Post.
Eliminating genetically modified (GM) crops over the next decade in addition to putting a halt to future GM crops that are currently in the works is key, according to the Center for Food Safety.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife considers adding monarch butterflies to endangered species list
Since 1996, the number of monarch butterflies in the U.S. has declined by approximately 90 percent in recent years, according to the FWS, which on February 9 announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at saving America’s most iconic butterfly.
The Service announced that it is allocating $2 million toward on-the-ground conservation projects around the country.
The campaign’s proposed efforts include protecting and restoring the monarch’s habitat by planting native milkweed, a primary food source as well as a safe house used for reproduction by the monarch.
The environmental agency also plans to help raise awareness about the need for more milkweed, educating the public on its importance while encouraging people to plant the seeds in parks and forests and along highways.
FWS will plant milkweed on 200,000 acres of land along the Interstate 35 corridor stretching from Texas to Minnesota, where an estimated half of monarch’s migrate.
Their efforts will be in vain, however, unless the distribution of Monsanto’s Roundup is greatly reduced or eliminated.
Milkweed, commonly found throughout the Midwest, often thrives at the edge of cornfields, making it vulnerable to Roundup. According to the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crops have contributed to a 99 percent decline in milkweed near corn and soybean fields over the last 20 years.
Roundup – one of few herbicides capable of killing milkweed
“Monarch butterflies have co-existed with agriculture ever since the prairies and forests of the Midwest were converted to cropland in the late 1800s, thriving despite dramatic changes in farming practices over the 20th Century,” states a report by the CFS.
“Monarchs have been able to thrive in a landscape dominated by agriculture because just one of the 130 or so North American milkweed species… is remarkably well adapted for life on disturbed ground, such as plowed fields, cleared woodlands, and roadsides. This one species has thus been able to largely replace the other kinds of milkweeds that hosted monarchs before prairies were plowed under and forests cut down.”
The report continues, “[A] dramatic change in farming practices — the widespread cultivation of genetically engineered, glysophate-resistant Roundup Ready corn and soybeans — has triggered a precipitous decline of common milkweed, and thus of monarchs. Glysophate, sold by Monsanto under the name of Roundup, is one of the very few herbicides that is effective on milkweed.”
The Center for Food Safety offered several recommendations for saving the monarch, including incentives for farmers to create more “biodiverse” edges around fields that would help boost milkweed growth.
They also recommended that the Fish and Wildlife Service expedite their decision to list the monarch as an endangered species, which would grant the government greater powers to protect the butterfly.
A report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch doubts the proposals will make any headway, as they’d likely face great opposition “from a Republican Congress that already thinks the Obama administration over-regulates on the environment.”
Written by Julie Wilson
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