Genetically engineered corn and soybeans make it easy for farmers to eradicate weeds, including the long-lived and unruly milkweed. But a new study has revealed that they may also be putting the monarch butterfly in peril. The rapid spread of herbicide-resistant crops has coincided with - and may explain - the dramatic decline in monarch numbers that has troubled some naturalists over the past decade, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University.
Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say. That’s because milkweed - the host plant for the eggs and caterpillars produced by one of one of the most gaudy and widely recognized of all North American butterflies - has nearly disappeared from farm fields, they found.
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