October 21, 2014

Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to monarch butterfly losses: 81 percent decrease in Midwest

pin it button Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to monarch butterfly losses: 81 percent decrease in Midwest

Monarch Butterflies killed by GMOs Study ties GMO corn, soybeans to monarch butterfly losses: 81 percent decrease in Midwest

by JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY
Star Tribune

Herbicide-resistant crops can withstand Roundup, which kills monarchs’ preferred nesting plant.

Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed.

But they might be putting the monarch butterfly in peril.

The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with — and may explain — the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.

Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed — the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies — has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.

It is one of the clearest examples yet of unintended consequences from the widespread use of genetically modified seeds, said John Pleasants, a monarch researcher from Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.

“When we put something out there, we don’t know always what the consequences are,” he said.

Read the Full Article and Comment Here: http://www.startribune.com/local/143017765.html

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