Reality-Check
May 20, 2014
Myth #6: Monsanto is killing the monarch butterflies

monarch-butterflies-on-a-flower-290x300False. Scientists think a number of inter-related factors are contributing to the decline and year-to-year variation of monarch butterfly populations.  While weather events (snow fall and frost) at mountain top overwintering sites and logging in Mexico continue to be factors, increasingly experts are focusing on agricultural practices and land use changes that have reduced milkweeds along the migration path in central regions of North America.

Agricultural innovation has helped farmers to produce more to meet the needs of a growing global population.  One of the consequences of controlling weed species that compete with crops for energy, water, and nutrients has been a decline in milkweeds and other natural forbs and grasses.  In addition, urbanization and conversion of reserve lands for agricultural production in response to increasing demand for corn and soy bean have further contributed to loss of milkweed.   Monsanto advocates programs to increase the availability of milkweed and other nectar sources along monarchs’ migratory pathway.

While scientists continue to examine the complex issues involved, there is a growing emphasis in conservation and collaborative programs to restore lost habitat and support monarch recovery. There are opportunities to restore milkweeds and pollinators on the agricultural landscape. This includes Crop Reserve Program land, on-farm buffer strips, and government-owned land, roadsides, and utility rights-of-way.  Already there are incentive programs at the federal and state level to help farmers, U.S. state departments of transportation, and federal land managers to increase biodiversity through restoration programs.  These programs need to grow and expand.

Addressing the challenges to monarchs will take the cooperation and engagement of many individuals, scientists, government agencies and civil society organizations.  Monsanto is engaging in that discussion.  We share the vision to collaborate with other stakeholders to restore habitat that supports the Monarch migration.  We also are committed to providing tools and strategies to make farmland more productive and sustainable.

 

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