Hold Monsanto Responsible for Killing Monarch Butterflies

Economics 101 taught us about “negative externalities” — a negative output that affects others who did not participate in creating the outcome. A textbook example of a negative externality? Monsanto killing off monarch butterflies with their agricultural herbicide, Roundup.

Monsanto makes Roundup and benefits handsomely from global sales, but Roundup also destroys milkweeds, a plant critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly. Communities that depend on the monarch for tourism are one of the parties that are paying the cost of Roundup, when the monarch migrations dwindles and with it the tourism dollars. You and me, the U.S. taxpayer, are also about to foot part of Monsanto’s bill. I am happy to do this for the butterflies, but I really resent helping Monsanto, already a multi-billion dollar business, increase their bottom line.

In 1996, about one billion monarch butterflies were counted making the 3,000-mile journey from Mexico to the US. For decades, people have flocked to locations in the United States and Mexico to witness this glorious black and orange winged extravaganza. But, in 2014, the number of migrating monarchs fell to fewer than 35 million – a 90 percent decline. Tierra Curry, an entomologist with the Center for Biological Diversity, laments that this reduction would be equivalent to “losing every living person in the US, except those in Florida and Ohio.”

A friend of mine, Dr. Richard Kanner, was in Mexico in 2013 and explained what a 90% population decline looks like on the ground: he was shocked to learn that the butterflies now cover less than 2 1/2 acres versus the 12 acres typical of the recent past.

Environmental accountability is usually hard to assign, but in the case of the magnificent monarch, the evidence is strong: Monsanto – a company that raked in $15 billion in 2013 – is killing the monarch by poisoning milkweed.

When monarchs are in their northern home, the United States, they feed, mate and spin their cocoons only on milkweed plants.  If there are no milkweed plants, the monarch cannot reproduce and lineages that have stretched back for millions of years come to an abrupt and quiet end.

Over the past twenty years, 80% of the Midwest’s milkweed has been decimated by farmers using Monsanto’s glyphosate weed-killer, Roundup. Ironically, this weed-killer is used by the farmers to protect the corn and soybean crops genetically modified by Monsanto to survive spraying by their own herbicides.

monarch butterfly threatened by Monsanto

At a news conference in Washington D.C. earlier this month, the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Service (NFWS) Director Dan Ashe, said it is clear that aggressive weed control is eradicating the milkweed plant and thus the monarch butterfly. Acutely aware of the sudden decline in monarch populations, the NFWS also announced that it will direct $23 million in tax-payer dollars to help save the monarch butterfly from extinction by replanting milkweed.

Approximately $2 million will go to the habitat restoration of more than 200,000 acres from California to the Corn Belt, including more than 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. The remaining amount will be dedicated to a monarch conservation fund — the first dedicated solely to the butterflies — that will provide grants to farmers and other landowners to conserve habitat. “The magic of the monarch butterfly is that little patches matter.,” Ashe said. “Piece by piece, we can make a difference on a continental scale.”

While I applaud the U.S. Government for taking action, it should not be the U.S. tax-payers who are footing this bill. Monsanto is ultimately responsible for the problem, so in a truly moral universe, they should be paying the bill. The monarch’s 2015 spring migration is about to commence. Not only should Monsanto be picking up the habitat restoration tab, they should double it and get started immediately with planting milkweed.

This, however, is unlikely to happen unless people like you and me, demand that Monsanto pay the true cost of doing their business, and that includes ensuring the protection of the monarch butterfly. Farmers who choose to use Roundup have a responsibility as well, but ultimately, the maker of the product is responsible for the damage that product does.

Please sign the petition demanding accountability from Monsanto and also contact Monsanto’s CEO Huge Grant (314-694-1000), urging him to take responsibility for the mess his company has made. It is his mess and he should clean it up. Period.


Janice Forsythe
Janice F3 years ago

Monsanto must pay for the "collateral damage" of Roundup. In fact, ALL big business needs to be held accountable for the damage they cause. We've started with Big Tobacco, even though they can never possibly pay enough for the people they've killed, but it is time to also hold other companies responsible.

Jan Sam
Jan Sam3 years ago

monsanto head office ttbombk is in wpg., manitoba; they also create poisons used in dissipation for depopulation experiments.

Lorraine Andersen

It is unfortunate, but we all know that monsanto will never be held responsible for anything, including messing up our food. Now I see they are running ads on tv about how good they make the food the eat!! What a bunch of crap. Petition dfinately signed.

Mary B.
Mary B3 years ago

Not only should they pay the bill for cleaning this up, they must be forbidden from ever produceing this substence again. When it's obvious that this is a major health hazzard that affects all kinds of creatures including people how is it that they are allowed to continue it ? And spreading it around the world? Somethings you just don't bother fighting against. You just say NO! The negative consequences are too great and too far reaching, and this stuff is no longer alowed. End of subject.

Chrissy Pownall
Chrissy Pownall3 years ago

Terrible and evil :(

Brian M.
Past Member 3 years ago

In a complex world, being able to sort things out quickly by choosing an easy scapegoat to vilify must be quite comforting.

Corey Brideau
Corey Brideau3 years ago

I like how it is now global knowledge that monsanto is the most evil and detrimental thing to happen to planet earth

Jill Porter Smyth


Marija Mohoric
Marija M3 years ago

Monsanto :((

Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing