The Monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insect species in the world, synonymous with good times in spring and summer when their presence (and that of the caterpillars preceding them) adorns fields and forests across the country. But while they were once a common part of the landscape and traveled in swarms causing noises that echoed throughout the landscape, Monarchs are quickly disappearing in many parts of the country. Millions of the butterflies and their caterpillars are being destroyed in what is quickly becoming an agricultural holocaust, as it has been estimated that as much as 80 percent of the Monarch population has been lost over the past 20 years. Now, a new report is once again linking their staggering disappearance to the use of agricultural chemicals like glyphosate and Roundup (a mix of glyphosate and other chemicals for weedkilling), casting further doubt on Monsanto’s operations and sounding the alarm over the use of a controversial herbicide that could deliver a final blow to Monarch populations. ‘Dicamba: A Menace to Monarchs’ The report, titled ‘Dicamba: ‘A Menace to Monarchs,’ was released by the Center for Biological Diversity, and said that the decline of the butterflies in recent decades has coinicided with the surge in GMO crops altered in a laboratory to be resistant to glyphosate, Monsanto’s controversial cancer-linked herbicide. Monsanto insists its products are safe citing government regulatory approvals, but a huge amount of research contradicts their assertions, others point out. The urgent Monarch butterfly situation has been expaserated by the adoption of dicamba, which was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 in order to combat the growing problem of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Several states across the country have instituted restrictions on dicamba since its approval, however, as the chemical has been known to drift to nearby farms causing widespread destruction. In Missouri for example, the state’s largest peach farmer has sued claiming the chemical caused millions in damages when it destroyed thousands of trees. The chemical, which was banned in Arkansas because of the immense amount of damage it is capable of causing to non-target plants (Monsanto sued every single member of the state’s Plant Board in response), is a huge part of the company’s new plan to continue evolving its pesticides-and-GMOs based agriculture plan. But is it really as evolved as Monsanto says it is when it continues to cause this much damage? Very Little Dicamba Needed to Destroy Butterfly Habitats The biggest Monarch-related problem with dicamba, glyphosate and other chemicals, researchers point out, is their ability to decimate their much-needed habitats, the milkweed plants. And now, research from the Center has shown that just 1 percent of the minimum dicamba application rate could reduce milkweed habitant by 50 percent, even more than glyphosate. Considering that these habitats have already been dwindling along with the Monarch, population, it’s clear to see that this could become a serious problem in a hurry, perhaps the “final nail in the coffin” for Monarchs as we know them in the United States. For more information on the report, check it this article from Patch by clicking here. You can also submit a comment for banning or restricting glyphosate to the EPA by clicking on this link.
Why does the United States always seem to bend over backwards for the Monsanto Company while so many other developed nations continue to move in the other direction? There are clearly other factors, but it’s becoming more and more obvious by the day that other countries are beating the United States to the punch when it comes to truly healthy and sustainable agriculture. For example, France recently announced its commitment to making half of all public sector food either organic or local by the year 2022, far outpacing current trends here in the U.S. And Germany, which much like France bans the cultivation of GMO crops, recently announced plans through its new agricultural minister its plans to phase out the infamous cancer-linked Monsanto chemical glyphosate entirely. Will the U.S. ever see similar changes in its agricultural sector, which is heavily dependent on toxic chemicals and genetically engineered seeds and crops? Such days may be a ways off, but with public awareness of the risks of glyphosate higher than ever, the time to act is now. EPA Seeks Comments for Possible Renewal of Glyphosate As shown on the website Regulations.gov (click here to learn more or participate), the EPA is requesting public comments over the potential renewal of glyphosate’s license along with several other lesser known pesticides, in accordance with agency rules that pesticides must be re-reviewed for their safety every 15 years. Glyphosate was deemed a “probable human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer back in spring 2015, and it has been the subject of numerous scandals including the censoring of safety information in Europe and an alleged case of collusion with an EPA official to “kill” safety studies. There has also been a boatload of research showing ill effects of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller Roundup, on animals in laboratory settings, leading many to wonder whether the explosion of such chemicals in our food is responsible for shockingly bad health outcomes, including our current situation in which an estimated 1 in 2 children has some sort of chronic disease. How to Comment on Glyphosate If you’d like to make your voice heard on the safety risks of glyphosate and why it should not be renewed by the EPA, much like the country of Germany’s current plans, you can visit the Regulations.gov website and follow the instructions to submit your comment. The deadline for commenting is April 30, 2018, and you can comment by clicking on the “Comment Now” button in the upper right hand corner of the website. Use docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0361 if yu decide to make a comment online. You can also choose to make a comment by mail or hand delivery. To contact the Chemical Review manager in charge of the glyphosate renewal, you can email glyphosateRegReview@epa.gov (or call 703) 347-0292. If commenting, feel free to cite the recent example of Germany’s pending decision to phase out glyphosate, or any of the studies cited in this post from the grassroots organization Moms Across America, whose laboratory tests have discovered amounts of glyphosate in popular foods at levels much higher than is deemed to be acceptable by EPA health standards.