Rep. DeFazio misleadingly links monarch butterfly decline solely to GMOs

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Monarch butterflies are an unexpected victim of the widespread adoption of genetically modified crops, Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said last week.

DeFazio is an advocate for policies that would require food labels to indicate if the product was made with genetically modified crops. In an appearance on MSNBC with celebrity chef Tom Colicchio on February 12, DeFazio said GMO crops are harmful to nature.

We decided to take a closer look at the effect of GMOs on the iconic orange and black butterflies. There’s little doubt that the monarch population is on the decline, but experts say that the adoption of genetically modified crops is not the sole factor.

Several reasons are evident, including deforestation in Mexico, recent weather patterns and reduced availability of milkweed, the butterflies’ main food source.

By far the biggest threat, though, is the lowered prevalence of milkweed, due to the increasing use of GMO crops that can withstand a heavy dose of herbicides, said Lincoln Brower, a monarch conservation scientist at Sweet Briar College. The problem is that the milkweed cannot withstand the herbicides.

Related article:  Trace amounts of neonicotinoid insecticides found in 70 percent of Great Lakes stream samples

Some argue that conservationists and the media have placed too much blame on GMOs for the loss of monarchs, saying correlation does not necessarily mean causation.

Andrew Kniss, a weed expert at the University of Wyoming, wrote in a blog post that the Insect Conservation and Diversity study does not specifically examine if the adoption of GMO crops and herbicides are the reason why milkweed is dying out. There could be another cause, he said.

Our ruling

The evidence of a connection is suggestive but not conclusive. The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, so we rate it Half True.

Read full, original article: Are GMOs causing monarch butterflies to become extinct?

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

Infographic: Trending green and going great — Every state in the US seeing decreased cases of COVID

The U.S. averaged fewer than 40,000 new cases per day over the past week. That’s a 21% improvement over the ...
a bee covered in pollen x

Are GMOs and pesticides threatening bees?

First introduced in 1995, neonicotinoids ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists