Podcast — ‘We’re growing food now in a way that doesn’t leave room for other biodiversity’: How GMO crops are affecting the monarch butterfly and what can be done about it

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Credit: Offshoots
Credit: Offshoots
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an interview with University of Georgia ecologist Sonia Altizer and NPR host Manoush Zomorodi.

ZOMORODI: So you actually link the monarch’s well-being to how we humans grow our food. Can you just explain what that link is, what the connection is between the two?

ALTIZER: Well, so monarchs need milkweed. Milkweed isn’t the only resource that they need. They also need nectar plants. But milkweed is the key resource that monarchs need to reproduce. And it’s an agricultural weed… And so one thing that has become popular since the late 1990s are crops that are genetically modified to resist common herbicides, like Roundup. And the herbicides can be sprayed on crop fields of soybean or corn, and the crops do just fine, but milkweeds and other agricultural weeds that would be providing nectar for monarchs would die.

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[ALTIZER]: It’s probably too late to turn the clock on GMO crops. And it is a controversial topic. So the technology itself isn’t, you know, harmful or evil. It’s just the way that these crops have been deployed and the scale at which they’ve been deployed. It means that we’re growing food now in a way that doesn’t leave room for other biodiversity.

 

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