gene pool and releases

Paul Cherubini cherubini at
Fri Jun 15 19:37:46 EDT 2001

Randy Minnehan wrote:

> The USDA/APHIS regulates the distribution of butterflies through a
> permit process and allows butterfly releases of approved species.  Even
> APHIS has stated that opinions against butterfly releases are insufficiently
> supported by scientific evidence, therefore lacking in evidence to prove
> releases are harmful.

Randy, everything seems to boil down to potential risks and risk standards.
APHIS is saying, essentially, that it makes it's risk judgements based on a 
negligible risk standard. The authors of the NABA anti-release article, by contrast, 
appear to make their risk judgements based on a zero risk (extremist) standard.
Last year one of these authors, Bob Pyle essentially stated he has a zero risk 
standard in regard to wedding and school releases of monarchs when he wrote the

"As I've made clear in the book [Chasing Monarchs] and elsewhere, and 
as Lincoln has often concurred, we do not know what any genetic consequences 
of mixing populations might be.  Only a few DNA markers have been tested,
by Andy Brower et al. In the absence of knowledge, the sensible thing to do is 
to err on the conservative side.  As the European Union put it when banning
imports of hormone-treated US beef: "Where scientific evidence is not black 
and white, policy should err on the side of caution so that there is zero risk 
to the consumer."  I feel the same policy should apply when considering even 
remotely possible threats to an endangered phenomenon such as the North 
American migratory monarch."


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