Does EPA really still stand for “Environmental Protection Agency?” From fracking-contaminated drinking water to unchecked air pollution at coal plants, protecting the planet doesn’t seem like the highest priority over there these days. And now that the EPA has approved a powerful new pesticide to help GMO crops survive, monarch butterflies are more imperiled than ever – and for everyone (like me) who has cherished childhood memories of monarchs, this news is pretty grim.
The new poison spray, called Enlist Duo and made by Dow AgroSciences, is meant specifically for GMO corn and soybean crops (yes, the same ones that were supposed to spare us all from excessive pesticide use). It’s a combination of two chemicals, and is supposed to kill the weeds that have already grown resistant to one of those ingredients.
This may be good news for Big Ag, but it’s terrible news for monarch butterflies, whose numbers are already on a steep decline. The fluttery creatures rely on milkweed to survive, but milkweed has no chance against the new Franken-spray.
And what happens when weeds grow resistant to the new pesticide? Will Dow bring out something even more toxic?
“There would not appear to be an end game to this arms race,” National Resources Defense Council senior scientist Sylvia Fallon told TakePart. “You can’t solve the problem of pesticide resistance with more pesticides.”
Environmental groups tried (and failed) to get monarchs listed as endangered species, which might have helped curb pesticide use. Because monarch numbers have dropped from 1 billion to just 35 million in the past 20 years, the word “endangered” seems fitting.
According to NRDC attorneys, herbicide-resistant (read: GMO) crops have contributed to 150 million acres of habitat loss for monarchs, and “this loss is likely to increase as uncultivated lands are increasingly converted into cropland planted with glyphosate-resistant crops.”
So next time you’re at the supermarket debating over whether to spend the extra buck or two for organic, think of the butterflies. I know will be.