The poisoning of the Swainson's Hawk in Argentina by the organophosphate insecticide monocrotophos has generated international interest and concern. A follow up report in PANUPS, November 4, 1996 describes recent developments, including an agreement from several of the pesticide's manufacturers to withdraw stocks and educate users regarding the risks to these birds during the part of the year they spend in certain regions of Argentina.
Unfortunately though, experts suspect that Argentinean farmers will still become more reliant on insecticides for the control of grasshoppers and other pests in alfalfa. There are several other OPs and carbamates sold in Argentina that are likely to also pose serious risks to the Swainson's Hawk. While the responsible actions by the manufacturers of monocrotophos are to be applauded, the same companies also make and sell the likely replacement products. Swainson's hawks will survive and thrive only if biointensive IPM methods are developed and adopted that make it unnecessary for farmers to apply hot OPs and carbamates. This episode also points to the need for comparative ecotoxicology data on major insecticides, so that steps can be taken now to avoid additional, regrettable surprises.