When people think of butterflies, one of the most common species that enter their mind is the Monarch butterfly.
The Monarch butterfly has the vibrant orange and black pattern that most people recognize. It’s known for its beauty and its intense migration from the United States to Mexico during winter time. In the past few years, it has also been known for its dwindling numbers.
This year, we have published several stories about the dwindling monarch butterfly populations and some of the efforts that have been made to save the species. New reports last week have indicated that these efforts may be paying off, because Monarch populations are actually beginning to grow again. In Mexico, one of the main breeding areas for these butterflies, scientists believe that this year there will be at least three times as many of them this year than there was last year.
During a recent conference at the Piedra Herrada research reserve, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said that Mexico and the US will be working together to create pesticide-free zones for the butterflies to flourish.
– Roundup-Ready GM Crops Leave Monarch Butterflies Close To Extinction (Sustainable Pulse, Feb 6, 2015)
– Monsanto pledges $4 million to help save monarch butterflies (RT, April 1, 2015):
Biotech giant Monsanto announced it would spend $4 million on efforts to save the monarch butterfly population after the company’s pesticides have been accused of destroying the insects’ habitat and bringing them to the brink of extinction.
The St. Louis-based company said Tuesday it would contribute $3.6 million over three years to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund. Another $400,000 will go to universities and conservations groups trying to rescue the species.
– Roundup-Ready GM Crops Leave Monarch Butterflies Close to Extinction (Sustainable Pulse, Feb 6, 2015):
Center for Food Safety (CFS) today released a detailed, 80 page scientific report, “Monarchs in Peril: Herbicide-Resistant Crops and the Decline of Monarch Butterflies in North America.”
The comprehensive report reveals the severe impacts of herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) crops on the monarch population, which has plummeted over the past twenty years. The report makes it abundantly clear: two decades of Roundup Ready crops have nearly eradicated milkweed – the monarch caterpillar’s sole source of food – in cropland of the monarch’s vital Midwest breeding ground. At the urgent request of scientists and public interest groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering listing the monarch as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
The report (available here) is being presented to Congress today at an expert briefing on the decline of monarchs.
– UK Supermarkets Told to Wake Up to GMO Environmental Damage (Sustainable Pulse,Aug 27, 2014):
GeneWatch UK called on supermarkets Wednesday to wake up to the environmental harm caused by genetically modified (GM) animal feed, imported from North and South America. Blanket spraying of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready GM crops with the weedkiller RoundUp has destroyed the habitat of the Monarch butterfly in the United States to such an extent that a petition was filed yesterday seeking endangered species protection for the butterfly, which has declined more than 90 percent in under 20 years.
“Supermarkets should act now to secure GM-free-fed meat, milk and eggs for all their customers” said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, “They must help to save the Monarch butterfly and protect other wildlife habitats from being destroyed by blanket spraying with RoundUp”.
– Japan Scientist: We gave butterflies food from Fukushima… then, they died; Deformities get worse with each generation — TV: “Truly horrifying… it doesn’t really even look like a butterfly anymore” (ENENews, May 29, 2014):
Vice on HBO, Season 2 Episode 10, May 24, 2014 (at 5:30 in):
- Dr. Joji Otaki, lead researcher, University of Ryukyus: We collected houseplant leaves from Fukushima, and those leaves are given to [butterfly] larvae collected from Okinawa… Those larvae aresupposed to be healthy. But they ate contaminated food from Fukushima. Then we see what happens.
- Vikram Ghandi, Vice: What happened?
- Otaki: They died.
… other than droning Monsanto.
– How You Can Help Prevent Decline of Monarch Butterflies Due to Roundup-Ready Genetically Engineered Crops (EcoWatch, Oct 30, 2013):
Home gardeners can help offset the falling numbers of monarch butterflies due to herbicides and a new study shows U.S. citizens are willing to pay for it.
Milkweed—the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs—is being eradicated by the herbicide glyphosate, which is sprayed on roadsides, pastures and fields where genetically modified, Roundup-ready corn and soy crops are grown, resulting in the loss of more than 80 million acres of monarch habitat in recent years, reports MonarchWatch.
The number of monarch butterflies has steadily dropped around 80 percent or more by some estimates in the past 15 years, barely recovering from the lowest plummet in 2009 to 2010. The good news is that home gardeners can help offset the threat simply by planting milkweed or building waystations to offset the loss of milkweed habitats.
– Plutonium releases from Fukushima plant highlighted in final sentence of butterfly mutation study (ENENews, Aug 15, 2012)
Title: The biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the pale grass blue butterfly
Source: Scientific Reports (via Nature)
Authors: Atsuki Hiyama, Chiyo Nohara, Seira Kinjo, Wataru Taira, Shinichi Gima, Akira Tanahara
& Joji M. Otaki
Published: August 9, 2012
We demonstrated that the Z. maha population in the Fukushima area is deteriorating physiologically and genetically.
[We] conclude that the present outbreak of abnormal individuals in the Fukushima area was caused by random genetic mutations in addition to physiological effects due to the artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Dai-ich NPP.
Our demonstration of heritable germ-line genetic damage caused by low-dose exposure due to radioactive contamination in a species of butterfly has invaluable implications for the possible future effects of radiation on animals. In view of the detection of plutonium released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP44, the possible risk of internal exposure from ingestion should be investigated more accurately in the near future.
– Biologist on Mutated Butterflies: Study is overwhelming in its implications for humans — Japan Researcher: Insects were believed to be very resistant to radiation — Irregularly developed eyes, malformed antennae, much smaller wings (PHOTO) (ENENews, Aug 13, 2012):
Title: ‘Severe abnormalities’ found in Fukushima butterflies
Source: BBC News
Author: Nick Crumpton
Date: August 13, 2012
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment have caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests.
Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident.
– Radioactive fallout from Fukushima nuclear meltdowns caused abnormalities in Japan’s butterflies (Japan Times, Aug 12, 2012):
Radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture created abnormalities among the nation’s butterflies, according to a team of researchers.
“We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima (No. 1) nuclear power plant caused physiological and genetic damage” to pale grass blue butterflies, a common species in Japan, a recent article in Scientific Reports, one of on-line journals of the Nature Publishing Group, said.