Continuing with Q&A from insightful readers:
Chris Padgett of Louisville, KY, recently wrote: “Hello, I recently read your book. I’m curious, is Monsanto or a think tank funded by their industry funding your work? I ask because I find it interesting you suggest GMOs and pesticides are not harming the Monarchs. Hearing you say this in various interviews on YouTube, my first reaction/question is: Who is funding this guy’s research? I do not see this disclosed anywhere on your website. Thank you.”
Anurag: Very important question Chris! Nice to hear from you, I am glad answer. I have never had research support from industry funding. The main research study I conducted to evaluate monarch declines was funded by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future… and I would hope that we went into it without a lot of biases. The study is “open access” and published here. Most of my other research has been funded by the National Science Foundation. I don’t have a strong position on GMOs, other than environmental impacts should be monitored and regulated. As for pesticides (I’ll lump these in with other environmental toxins and pollutants), I personally believe that have had a strong negative impact on biodiversity, including monarchs. I am just one that believes causal conclusions should be supported by data whenever possible. You’ll find more on this little blog post on pesticides.
I was glad to get the following response from Chris: “Anurag, Thanks for writing back so quickly. Thanks for this background information on funding for the research. I’ve become hyper aware of “research” being conducted these days that is funded by corporations and industries, so I thought I’d just ask you directly. Over the years — and sadly even in the Monarch world — I’ve encountered these things. I enjoyed the book and the videos I found you discussing on YouTube. Good insights — particularly the link between cardiac glycocides, milkweed, and foxglove. My guess is as more research is done over time, more insights will be learned in these areas. I follow Monarch Watch and found very insightful your post they shared about the non-migratory Monarchs. On a whim, I set up a Monarch Waystation in my backyard garden eight years ago and have been doing talks and teaching people who want to do similar in their gardens. I’ve tried eight different types of milkweed plants. I’ve found the Asclepias incarnata and Asclepias tuberosa to be the two plants in Louisville that the Monarchs tend to gravitate towards most. I don’t plant the Common milkweed because those runners are hard to contain and I rarely see caterpillars on the plant and I’m avoiding the Tropical milkweed given conflicting reports I’ve read about the OE spore. I also plant lots of Torch or Tithonia which does really well in our local soil and about another hundred different nectar sources. I’m recommending your book as a reference for a class I’m teaching through the Waterfront Botanical Gardens in Louisville at the end of this month. I’m recommending it to participants as a way to deepen their learning. https://www.facebook.com/events/163608460894008/
Thanks again for writing back and safe travels in Mexico. Best, Chris