The Washington Post had a very important story focused on the growing concern about the future of the beautiful monarch butterfly.
Threatened animals like elephants, porpoises and lions grab all the headlines, but what’s happening to monarch butterflies is nothing short of a massacre. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service summed it up in just one grim statistic on Monday: Since 1990, about 970 million have vanished.
It happened as farmers and homeowners sprayed herbicides on milkweed plants, which serve as the butterflies’ nursery, food source and home.
The story downplays what is probably the major cause of the precipitous decline in monarch populations — Roundup, the toxic pesticide made by Monsanto, which has been used to drench crops of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that cover tens of millions of acres of America. Indeed, The Hill reported that,
Agriculture giant Monsanto’s signature herbicide has nearly eradicated the monarch butterfly, according to a Center for Food Safety study.
The good news is that people across the country are beginning to rally behind the protection of this amazing species. As a result,
Fish and Wildlife is reviewing a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity to list monarch butterflies as an endangered species that requires special protection to survive. The agency is studying whether that’s necessary and also trying to do more to help restore the population.
This would be a major step in the right direction. However, most monarch butterfly habitats are on private land, which is largely unaffected by Endangered Species Act restrictions. An expansion of our National Park System could protect vast swaths of monarch habitat, free of GMOs, toxic pesticides, and industrial development. This is another reason why America needs more national parks.