The South American Biological Control Laboratory (SABCL) was settled in Argentina in 1962 for the study of insects to control alligator weed in the United States. The success achieved in the reduction of this weed by three insects from Argentina motivated a second project, water hyacinth. After the studies conducted at SABCL, this aquatic weed was partially controlled in the southeast of the United States by two weevils and one moth from Argentina. These insects are now in most tropical places around the world in which water hyacinth is a problem.
In 1967, several north American rangeland weeds (bitterweed, creosotebush, snakeweeds, tarbush, whitebrush, cocklebur) were selected as targets for biocontrol and SABCL started the exploration for natural enemies on south American con-generic plants. Due to conflict of interests in the control of native plants in the United States, the research programs at SABCL were reoriented in 1994.
Other past projects conducted at the SABCL included the following targets: dung and filth flies, balloon vine, horsenettle, morningglories, nutsedges, sicklepod, velvetleaf, Azolla, groundsel, musk thistle, rush skeletonweed, and Parkinsonia.
The current program includes insect pests and weeds with ARS cooperators in the United States designated by National Program Leaders, Drs. Kevin Hackett and John Lydon. Cooperative agreements exist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Australia, the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), UK, and the Plant Protection Research Institute (PPRI), South Africa. A total of 25 organisms for biocontrol have been developed or co-developed by SABCL staff and field released in the United States and other countries; several other organisms are still in quarantine for further research.
SABCL is operated by the USDA-ARS-Office of National Programs, Beltsville, MD, and supervised by Dr. Daniel Strickman, National Program Leader for Veterinary and Medical Entomology and Acting Director of the ARS Overseas Laboratories. Local support is provided by the American Embassy at Buenos Aires, mainly the Agricultural Counselor, David Mergen, at the Foreign Agriculture Service.