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February 14, 2014


Our Directors, Serge Dedina and Eduardo Najera, are among the signees to help save this important species




Plummeting from a high of 1.1 billion monarch butterflies overwintering in central Mexico´s high-altitude oyamel fir forests in 1996 to a pitiful 33 million thinly scattered over seven sites during the current 2013-2014 season, the extraordinary monarch butterfly migratory phenomenon is now officially endangered.  In past years the decline in butterfly numbers was blamed on logging in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, out-of-control ecotourism and devastating climate events such as the 2002 winter storms in the state of Michoacan and the severe 2011 drought in Texas. 

But now monarch butterfly experts are in agreement that the main cause of the dizzying drop in monarch numbers is the huge increase in land planted with genetically modified, herbicide resistant soybean and corn crops (93 % of total soybean acreage and 85% of corn acreage in 2013) in the U.S. Corn Belt.  Relentless spraying of herbicides on the fields has destroyed the once abundant milkweed plants, the only plants that monarch caterpillars can eat.  The monarch butterfly is literally being starved to death.

Sharing the blame is continued degradation of the monarchs’ overwintering habitat in Mexico, where small-scale illegal logging is still rampant.

Faced with the unthinkable loss of a cherished species and a unique migratory phenomenon, monarch scientists and concerned writers, artists and scientists in other fields have united on the eve of the North American leaders’ Summit on February 19-20 in Toluca, state of Mexico to propose a workable strategy for recovering the monarch population and ensuring that future generations of Mexicans, Americans and Canadians will continue to enjoy the spectacular monarch butterfly.

Massive planting of milkweeds and other native plants in roadsides and in broader buffer zones within the agricultural heartland, coupled with incentives to farmers to create toxin-free areas, are creative measures that would revive flagging monarch populations and go a long way towards ensuring the survival of the monarch butterfly and its breathtaking migration. We need a milkweed corridor stretching along the entire migratory route of the monarch.

We are requesting that our three leaders discuss the future of the monarch butterfly at the upcoming North American leaders’ Summit to be held in Toluca, state of Mexico on February 19-20.  This will show the political will of our governments to save the living symbol of the North American Free Trade Agreement. 




Among the signers of this letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are:

From abroad: Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk (Turkey) and Tomas Transtromer (Sweden), Per Wastberg y Kjell Espmark (Nobel Committee for Literature, Sweden), Robert F. Kennedy Jr (USA), Jonathon Porritt, Simon Schama and Hugh Thomas (United Kingdom) Yves Bonnefoy (France), Maneka Sanjar Gandhi (Member of Parliament, India), Sebastiao Salgado (Brazil) among others.


From Mexico: Homero Aridjis (President of the Grupo de los Cien), Elena Poniatowska, Fernando del Paso, Juan Villoro, Vicente Rojo, Laura Esquivel, María José Paz, Silvia Lemus de Fuentes, Manuel Felguerez, Dr. José Sarukhan, Juan Carlos Rulfo and Gabriel Orozco.


From the United States: Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan (Make Way for Monarchs founder), Dr. Lincoln Brower, Paul Auster, John Ashbery, Russell Banks, Junot Diaz, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Peter Mathiessen, Lester Brown, Serge Dedina, Eduardo Najera, Nicole Krauss, Terry Tempest Williams, Rita Dove, Bill McKibben and Native American communities (Lummi, Chemehuevi, Cahuilla, Navajo, and Paiute Tribes).


From Canada: Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Jann Martel, Linda Spalding, John Ralston Saul.


For more information: 

Homero Aridjis

Tel (55) 5540-7379

cel 04455-3273 5340


Dr. Gary Nabhan (Make Way for Monarchs)

928 2250293   520 3940026 casa (Arizona)


Dr. Lincoln Brower Tel 434-277-5065 (Virginia)