WASHINGTON - MAY 24 - Rachel Carson's 100th birthday is being celebrated this Sunday,
May 27. Carson is widely credited with ushering in a new age of environmental
consciousness with the publication of her book, Silent Spring, in 1962. The
book alerted the world to the dangers of DDT, dieldrin, and other persistent
organochlorine pesticides that were responsible for the deaths and reproductive
failures of raptors, seabirds, herons, and songbirds. Ten years later, following
the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, those chemicals were banned.
"Thanks to Rachel Carson, endangered bird species in the United States
have recovered, including the Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, and
Osprey," said Dr. Michael Fry, Director of American Bird Conservancy's
Pesticides and Birds Campaign. "But there is more to be done; millions
of birds are still being poisoned each year. ABC is committed to continuing
the great work begun by Rachel Carson and others to ensure that all America's
birds are safeguarded against dangerous pesticides."
The highly toxic and persistent "first generation" insecticides have
mostly now been superseded by newer generations of reduced risk chemicals. But
despite these gains, birds are still being poisoned. One estimate by Pimentel
&Acquay suggests that more than 670 million birds are directly exposed to
pesticides each year on U.S. farms alone, 10% of which - or 67 million birds
- die as a result.
ABC's Avian Incident Monitoring System (AIMS) documents more than 2,500 cases
of pesticide-caused bird deaths in the past 40 years, representing more than
400,000 individual dead birds, and involving more than 100 different pesticides.
This is a small percentage of the total number of bird poisonings since most
incidents are never reported.
The Breeding Bird Survey has documented that over two hundred of the 654 bird
species in the United States are still in decline. While habitat loss and fragmentation
is likely the biggest cause, continued use of toxic chemicals still plays a
Since 1996, ABC's Pesticides
and Birds Campaign has played a leading role in getting the most hazardous
pesticides to birds removed from the marketplace. Of the 25 worst pesticides
in terms of bird deaths, 17 have now been banned or are currently in the process
of being cancelled or strictly regulated (as indicated by black or white Xs
on the graph). ABC led in the withdrawal, restriction, or proposed cancellation
of many of these, including fenthion, which posed a hazard to endangered Piping
Plovers in Florida, carbofuran, brodifacoum, bromodialone, zinc phosphate, and
monocrotophos for international use.
"Recently, carbofuran was recommended to be canceled by the EPA following
a campaign by ABC and other members of the National Pesticide Reform Coalition,
and the coalition is pressing for the cancellation of aldicarb," said Dr.
Fry. "Diazinon now stands out as the most dangerous prominent pesticide
Diazinon and aminopyridine are now ABC's top targets for regulation or cancellation.
Many of the household uses of diazinon were canceled in 2001 because of storm
water contamination and water quality issues in California, an action also supported
by ABC. However, agricultural and other lawn uses still kill many waterfowl
and ground-feeding birds.
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American Bird Conservancy is the only 501(c)(3)
organization that works solely to conserve native wild birds and their habitats
throughout the Americas. ABC acts to safeguard the rarest bird species, restore
habitats, and reduce threats, while building capacity in the conservation movement.
ABC is the voice for birds, ensuring that they are adequately protected; that
sufficient funding is available for bird conservation; and that land is protected
and properly managed to maintain viable habitat. ABC is a membership organization
that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group,