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Leading Scientists, Over 200 Groups and Companies Call for Monarch Protection

November 13th, 2014
Center for Food Safety

Broad Coalition Supports Petition to Protect Monarch Butterflies as Threatened under Endangered Species Act

Contact:
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety, (202) 547-9359, aseiler@centerforfoodsafety.org
Sarina Jepsen, Xerces Society, (971) 244-3727, sarina@xerces.org
Tierra Curry, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 522-3681, tcurry@biologicaldiversity.org

WASHINGTON— In the face of staggering declines of monarchs, more than 40 leading monarch scientists and ecologists and more than 200 organizations and businesses today urged Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to protect these butterflies under the Endangered Species Act. Today’s letters come in support of a formal petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking federal protection for monarchs. The petition was filed in August by the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower.

The North American monarch butterfly population has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years, dropping from a high of approximately 1 billion in the mid-1990s to fewer than 35 million butterflies last winter – the lowest number ever recorded. The dramatic decline is being driven by the loss of milkweed plants – the monarch caterpillar’s only food – caused by increased herbicide use resulting from the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born.

“The extensive use of the herbicide glyphosate on genetically engineered crops has all but wiped out milkweed in crucial monarch breeding areas. If we have any hope of saving monarchs, our agricultural practices must be at the forefront of the conversation,” said Larissa Walker, pollinator program director at Center for Food Safety.

“The monarch butterfly is North America’s most well-known and cherished insect,” said Sarina Jepsen, endangered species program director at the Xerces Society. “Without immediate action to protect this species and restore critical milkweed habitat, the spectacular migration of the monarch butterfly may no longer be an experience for future generations to enjoy.”

“The Endangered Species Act is the most effective tool available for spurring the large-scale effort that’s needed to protect the amazing monarch butterfly from extinction,” said Tierra Curry, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

Signatories of the sign-on letters include author Barbara Kingsolver, as well as leading monarch scientists and advocates Karen Oberhauser, John Pleasants, Ina Warren, Robert Michael Pyle, Gary Nabhan and Lincoln Brower, among others.

Groups supporting the petition through the sign-on letters include environmental organizations, religious groups and businesses. Among the signatories are Amy's Kitchen, Catholic Rural Life, Center for Media and Democracy, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Clif Bar, Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Ecological Farming Association, Endangered Species Chocolate, the Endangered Species Coalition, Environment America, Equal Exchange, Family Farm Defenders, Green America, Greenpeace USA, Humane Society of the United States, National Audubon Society, Slow Food USA, Sierra Club, Wild Farm Alliance, and numerous Riverkeeper chapters from across the country.

 Center for Food Safety is a nonprofit, public interest organization with over half a million members nationwide. CFS and its members are dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by curbing the use of harmful food production technologies and instead promoting sustainable alternatives.

The Xerces Society is a nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is at the forefront of invertebrate protection worldwide, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of citizens to implement conservation programs.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

 

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