Monsanto Company this week said it is providing $400,000 to support efforts that will benefit monarch butterflies, a donation in addition to a previous $3.6 million grant to match funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will support restoration, education, outreach and milkweed seed production for monarchs.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service late last year said it will conduct a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act in response to a petition from several environmental groups.
The FWS says many monarchs migrate between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, logging journeys of more than 3,000 miles. But habitat loss – particularly the loss of the monarch caterpillar's only food source, the milkweed – has made the journey more perilous, FWS said. Pesticides also have affected mortality, it added.
Monsanto notes that weed management has been a factor in the loss of milkweed, and "the agricultural sector can absolutely be part of the solution in restoring it," said Brett Begemann, president and chief operating officer of Monsanto.
"We're proud to collaborate with non-profits, universities, researchers, farmers and others to find ways to improve and protect monarch habitat across North America. It is clear that sufficient progress cannot be made without action. Monsanto will work alongside others to address this important element of biodiversity," he said.
Monsanto grants to the following organizations will support a series of initiatives focused on both immediate and long-term action in protecting biodiversity:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Monsanto will match the initial $1.2 million pledge from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund and provide $2.4 million additional funding to match commitments from federal agencies over the next three years. This support will be targeted to provide habitat restoration, education and outreach and milkweed seed and plant production.
Monarch Watch: This nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. This grant will enable Monarch Watch to produce and make available milkweed plants free of charge for landscape improvement, including buffer strips on farm-lands, roadsides, rights of way, parks, public lands and demonstration plots along the monarch's migratory path – which stretches from Mexico to Canada.
Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium: The grant will help drive research to create quality habitat, develop guidance and demonstrations for farmers to cost-effectively improve and expand habitat, and monitor milkweed and adult monarch populations to track progress. The Iowa Monarch Conservation Consortium can serve as a model framework for other state-level initiatives planning to implement monarch conservation.
Pheasants Forever: The grant will lead to the planting of monarch and pollinator habitats at more than 70 Monsanto research and manufacturing sites and facilities located in the monarch breeding range. This includes the creation of three Learning Center programs to demonstrate how to establish sustainable monarch and pollinator habitat, which is also the same habitat critical to upland birds. These programs engage, enroll and educate farmers and communities to contribute to a resilient monarch population.
University of Guelph: The grant will help to understand migration patterns and identify priority areas for milkweed restoration in the United States and Canada so that investments in habitat improvement are more successful.
University of Illinois at Chicago, Energy Resources Center: Researchers will use these resources to identify and prioritize available public and private lands for monarch habitat improvement using geo-spatial analysis. This information will support the success of restoration programs by considering habitat location, quality and cost across diverse landscapes.
Beyond those funding commitments, Monsanto also encourages a diverse group of public and private sector stakeholders to fully participate in the Keystone Policy Center Monarch Butterfly Collaborative – an effort to connect the agriculture supply chain with conservationists, farmers, scientists and landscape professionals from across the country to coordinate and scale solutions to the challenges facing monarchs and other pollinators.