Pesticides Canceled or Restricted With Help from ABC

Swainson's Hawk by Tom Grey

Birds such as the Swainson's Hawks have benefitted from ABC efforts to cancel a number of pesticides. Photo by Tom Grey


After years of scientific review and steadily tightening restrictions, in 2009 EPA followed through on the full cancellation of carbofuran, one of the deadliest pesticides ever used on agricultural lands in the United States. ABC had advocated for the ban and supported EPA in fighting pressure from the manufacturer to keep the chemical on the market. Through efforts by ABC and other organizations, and support from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Turner Foundation, and New York Community Trust, cancellations and restrictions on pesticide use, including carbofuran, have caused bird deaths from pesticide poisonings to drop dramatically, from an estimated 67 million birds per year in 1992 to perhaps fewer than 15 million per year today.

Throughout its ten-year history, ABC’s Pesticides and Birds Program has helped cancel or limit usage of a number of pesticides that caused bird kills. Here are some of our most significant accomplishments to date:

MONOCROTOPHOS: CANCELED – Former use: sunflowers in Argentina, which had resulted in the deaths of an estimated 35,000 Swainson’s Hawks.

CHLORFENAPYR: HIGHLY RESTRICTED – Use: cotton in Africa. ABC highlighted adverse effects in other countries, which helped prevent its registration in the United States.

ALDICARB: HIGHLY RESTRICTED – Former use: coffee, pecans, sugarcane, sorghum, tobacco, and alfalfa. Known to have killed many raptors such as Red-tailed Hawks, Northern Harriers, Great Horned Owls, and Bald and Golden eagles.

DISULFOTON: CANCELED – Former use: Cotton and other food and non-food crops. Known to have killed Swainson’s Hawks, Black-crowned Night-Herons, and Common Ravens.

FENTHION: CANCELED – Former use: mosquitoes in Florida. Known to have killed Black Skimmers, Sanderlings, Short-billed Dowitchers, Snowy Egrets, Snowy Plovers, Black-necked Stilt, Short-eared Owls, and others, and threatened wintering endangered Piping Plover populations. ABC led a major campaign to halt the last uses of this highly toxic chemical

DIAZINON: HIGHLY RESTRICTED – Former use: in granular form on backyards and golf courses. Known to have killed waterfowl such as American Wigeon, Ross’s Goose, and Brant, as well as Blue Jay, Great Blue Heron, and Great Horned Owl.

ETHYL PARATHION: CANCELED – Former use: alfalfa, barley, corn, cotton, canola, sorghum, soybean, sunflower, and wheat. Known to have killed Hermit Thrush, Northern Flicker, Varied Thrush, Western Meadowlark, Band-tailed Pigeon, and Bald Eagle.

RODENT POISONS: HIGHLY RESTRICTED – Use: rats, mice, and other rodents. ABC highlighted deaths of raptors that ate poisoned rodents, and other birds, such as blackbirds, turkeys, and pheasants, that ate poisoned bait. Nine rodenticides are now restricted for use by professional applicators only; all over-the-counter sales of remaining rodenticides now limited to tamper-resistant bait stations.

CARBOFURAN: CANCELED – Former use: cotton, potatoes, corn, soybeans, alfalfa. Known to have killed waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, shorebirds, grassland birds, and songbirds such as the Blue Grosbeak, Rusty Blackbird, Hermit Thrush, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. ABC led efforts to have this pesticide canceled, and is now pursuing a ban on all food imported into the U.S. that contains traces of carbofuran. This will prevent the use of carbofuran by overseas farmers wishing to sell to the U.S. benefitting neotropical migrants on their wintering grounds, while also leveling the playing field for American farmers who must compete with overseas growers.