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Monarch Butterflies are Coming Back to the West Coast - Episode 115

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Notes for this week's Podcast
This week's Transcript

Rough Transcript:

Speaker 2: (00:09)
Hi, I'm Jeffrey Smith, founder of the Institute for responsible technology. And it's great to share the good news Monarch butterflies. I've been spending some years in the west coast these days, California. And this west coast has been part of the magic of the movement of Monarch butterflies. Every year they come from the Pacific Northwest and they come down to the same place, sometimes the same trees each year, uh, generally arriving in California in the beginning of November. Now in the eighties, there were many, many millions of Western Monarch butterflies. However, the drop has been disastrous because of the destruction of the milk wheat milkweed habitat, which is where the larva grow. Uh, housing expansion, the use of pesticides and herbicides, the drought, et cetera. It's been a disaster. And in the 1980s, went from millions to the 1997. It was 1.2 million. They have groups that count in the, in the overwintering sites and 19 in 2017, it was just 200,000 monarchs down from billions.

Speaker 2: (01:28)
And last year, it was less than 2000. I remember going in mid coast and San Luis Obispo region to a Monarch butterfly, um, forest. And I was asking them behind the counter, where are the buttocks? And they said, there's hardly any left, but this year they have counted the, or the middle of the count this year. It's a few weeks. They've counted a hundred thousand. Now. It's certainly not the millions that we had in the eighties, but to go from less than 2000 to already a hundred thousand count in the middle of this six week, counting period is a huge relief. Now, Monarch butterflies tend to bounce back and forth in their populations year to year, but there's never been a change like this, where a, a upleveling like this. Now they don't know why. I don't know why. I mean, it could be the planting of milkweed.

Speaker 2: (02:32)
It could be the reduction of pesticide use in certain areas. You can go to the Pacific Grove museum, a website and find the five ways you can help to foster the, uh, return of the Monarch population. I say that because not everyone should be planting milkweeds. If you're within five or 10 miles of an over wintering site, you probably don't want to, but I'll let the experts tell you at the Pacific Grove museum site. Now on the east coast, there's been an 80% decline since the mid 1990s, but nowhere near as steep drop as the west coast. Now, I originally reported on the Monarch butterflies, um, in my book seeds of deception, where there was evidence that BT toxin produced in genetically engineered corn. It's also produced in cotton, um, could damage the health of monarchs. This was discovered by a researcher. And as soon as he put it out there, there was a huge disinformation campaign put out by the biotech industry.

Speaker 2: (03:43)
They called a meeting and of experts who were in the middle of research and the biotech industry organized without the experts, knowing to release a press release with conclusions that were not supported yet by the science that said, oh, don't worry. Monarch butterflies are not at risk. And I just, I detail this in the book seeds of deception, how they engineered this disinformation. Whereas when, when anyone tries to report any adverse impact of GMOs, uh, before publication or the middle of gathering data, they're all up in arms saying it should never be done, but when they wanted to get their thing out quickly, then it was fine. It turns out that there was a confirmation that a certain variety of BT toxin was damaging and deadly to Monarch butterfly larva. And that was quietly removed from the market without any fanfare. Uh, it's possible that new BT toxins that have been introduced into the marketplace have a negative impact or continuing chronic exposure of all of the may have a negative impact.

Speaker 2: (04:57)
Remember BT toxin, pokes holes in the guts of caterpillars and kills them, uh, certain types of caterpillars. And it could easily have that effect on the Monarch butterflies at various stages. But what may be far more dangerous is the Roundup use because Roundup ready, corn and soy is all over the Midwest and cotton in the south. And when you spray the field with the, uh, Roundup, you kill all of the other plant biodiversity, which includes the milkweed, which is where they, the larva get their food. So destroying the natural habitat in the names of good weeding practices turns out to be a disaster. And the monarchs are just one of many insects that are being clobbered because of agricultural practices. I don't, if you've seen the report of the state of the insects in the world, but it's, it's breathtakingly, uh, severe, I mean, in one country, I think was UK was down 93%.

Speaker 2: (06:07)
I don't, I don't have the numbers handy. I reported on it at the time, but it was 40. It was just horrible. And the boat arcs are there, like the Bambi's of the insect world. In fact, uh, in the United States, it was the potential damage to the monarchs, which had the U S population up in arms about GMOs, not the health dangers, not the firing of scientists that had discovered problems that was reported in the, in the EU, but not in the United States, the United States. They picked it up when the Monarch butterfly was at risk. So there's a, there's a whole movement to plant milkweed. See if you can get it also butterfly, um, friendly gardens, see if he can participate, see if it works for you. Um, but I think it's time to celebrate that this beautiful part of our world is showing a rebound from less than 2000 last year to more than a hundred thousand this year here in the west coast.

Speaker 2: (07:13)
Um, before I sign off, I want to remind you if you'd like to make a donation to our Institute for responsible technology, I'm putting a link in the notes. Uh, we didn't quite make our requirements at, um, our giving Tuesday, but I would love to make up for it. I'm giving Thursday, I'm making that up. There's no giving Thursday, but today, you know, every day is a giving day. Um, thank you for those that have made a donation. And for those that would like to, and for those that support us in every way, sharing this, uh, become following are, is due for responsible technology website. However you want to participate. That's it for now. I thought I'd share the good news. Go monarchs and go insects, go nature. Thank you all safe eating

Speaker 1: (08:08)
[inaudible].

Speaker 2: (08:14)
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