Monsanto and the Monarch Butterfly
If you’ve come to one of my programs on Monarchs you already know about the correlation between the unbridled spread of GMO corn and soybean crops and the decline of the Monarch butterfly.
In a nutshell – genetically modified corn and soybean seeds are engineered so that the plants can survive being sprayed with herbicides – most commonly known by the name Round-up. The herbicide kills everything — every plant – except the corn and soybean, leaving a wasteland, a monoculture that stretches pavement edge to pavement edge for hundreds of miles, millions of acres — through the area of the country where milkweed and nectar plants coexisted with farming and survived on roadsides. This is the area of the country where the majority of Monarchs historically bred and migrated. Prior to 1996, this was not how farming was done. Yes – this devastation is that recent.
In February of this year, Monsanto acknowledged, in a subtle way, their role in the decline of the Monarch. You can read it on their company blog here: http://monsantoblog.com/2014/02/24/the-monarch-butterfly/ And in it they made a statement: “…And we’re eager to join efforts to help rebuild monarch habitat along the migration path by joining with conservationists, agronomists, weed scientists, crop associations and farmers to look at ways to increase milkweed populations on the agricultural landscape.”
So the question: Are they sincere? or Is this a marketing ploy to address the building backlash against GMO food crops worldwide? Well, I asked.
I posted the following to their company blog and directed it to their COO, Brett Begemann. Here’s what I said:
To Brett Begemann,
Your company posted a statement pertaining to the Monarch butterfly [http://monsantoblog.com/2014/02/24/the-monarch-butterfly/] and in it not only acknowledged the role that your company has had in the demise of the Monarch and its breeding and migratory habitat but also an interest in reversing the trend:
“we’re eager to join efforts to help rebuild monarch habitat along the migration path by joining with conservationists, agronomists, weed scientists, crop associations and farmers to look at ways to increase milkweed populations on the agricultural landscape.”
Frankly, we are skeptical that this is anything more than a publicity stunt or red herring to deflect the building backlash against GMOs.
So, SHOW US that you are sincere. You have my contact information as part of this posting. I lead an organization that is working on efforts to Bring Back the Monarch. I am one of the people that you supposedly want to work with.
Please reach out to me – it’s time to WALK the TALK.
That same day, I received a response from their Director of Online Strategy and Communications. She simply said, “Ms. Hamilton – I forwarded your comment to the Monsanto team working on this. We appreciate and thank you for your interest. The team is meeting with experts on the Monarch butterfly and agricultural practices, and then will be working for broader engagement.”
I have not heard anything further, and I continue to question the sincerity as it still feels like spin doctors at work. But we’ll see – right? At the end of the day, they are a chemical company and to really help reverse the trend as they say they want to, they would have to unravel a large part of who they are, but who knows – strange things can happen. Regardless, I continue to put my chips on the people and organizations that are sincerely working on solutions, and I do my best to avoid GMO food and buy organic, to plant native plants and never use pesticides.
I share this because we need to remember that each one of us has a voice – we have a voice in the things we say and in the choices we make, and it all makes a difference but we have to engage. I encourage you to rise up, speak out, learn more, make choices when you buy things that represent your values and the future that you want to see, and share your story and experiences with others. And – feel free to post a note to Mr. Begemann along with mine – and let us know if you receive a response: http://monsantoblog.com/2014/02/27/well-deserved-recognition-much-more-to-do/ Maybe if they receive enough comments straight from us, they will hear us and do something real.