Honeybees and monarch butterflies on decline but GMOs are not to blame

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Both honeybees and monarch butterflies are on the decline, and scientists have yet to figure out exactly why. Many critics are quick to blame GMOS, or genetically modified organisms, for these trends. “GMOs and increased pesticide use are a major factor in the increasing death rates of honeybees, monarch butterflies and bird populations,” the group GMO Free USA posted on its website.

Scientists, however, while showing a link between pesticide use and decreases in monarch and honeybee populations, scientists have not been able to prove a concrete link between GMOs and these declines. Instead, the experts say the reasons are many and complex.

The issue now for butterflies seems to be partly a feeding problem, according to Lance Meinke, an entomology professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants, which the larvae feed on until they pupate and transform into butterflies. And, as farmers kill off the milkweed plants, they deny larvae a food source. The decline in milkweed is not the only problem for the butterflies, though. The insects also are fighting habitat loss in Mexico where the monarchs migrate for the winter.

Related article:  Do activists claiming pesticide Beemageddon really care about bee survival or is it tactical ploy?

Honeybees are also facing complex issues. Many people blame GMOS for the decrease in bee populations, but Doug Golick, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomology professor, says the GMOs are not the problem. “I think GMOS have very little to nothing to do with our current issues with honey bees,” Golick said. “A lot of evidence says a lot of different things are happening.”

For one thing, Golick said that honeybees, which are highly managed by humans, are now being used to pollinate crops, including almond crops in California. “Diseases spread fast around the bees because they are in a concentrated area,” Golick said. Another threat to honeybees is the varroa mite. This mite lives in the bee colonies and feeds on the body of the bees. If left untreated, the mite can kill the honeybee colony. Honeybees are also affected by the seed coating used to protect the seed from pests before it germinates. These seed coatings contain pesticides and are found on both GMO and non-GMO seeds.

Read the full, original article: Bees and butterflies die off, but GMOs are not to blame

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