01 September 2006

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Butterfly Kiss-Off,” by Jeffrey A. Lockwood (Op-Ed, Aug. 24):

The release of farmed butterflies into the environment risks serious harm to our wild butterflies, which play important roles as pollinators, early warning indicators of the state of the environment and natural nourishment for the human spirit.

Releasing farmed organisms into the environment can diminish the genetic fitness of and spread diseases to the wild populations. The farmed butterflies do not increase the number of butterflies (which is regulated by the availability of suitable habitat and the prevalence of diseases and predators), but can decrease the number of wild butterflies.

We do not expect that the Agriculture Department will soon ban “releasing” farm butterflies into the environment. But we believe that when people who buy farm butterflies and “release” them at weddings or after using them in schools learn that this harms wild butterflies and results in the abuse and death of the farmed butterflies, they will stop buying them.

Jeffrey Glassberg
President, North American Butterfly Association
Morristown, N.J., Aug. 24, 2006

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