20:21 GMT07 July 2020
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    Colombia is overhauling its anti-drug strategy and next month will end US-backed aerial spraying of the crop used to make cocaine, a tactic that had been a fixture of the drug war for two decades.

    Instead of using American-piloted planes to fumigate large swaths of Colombian land, the new strategy will rely more on manual eradication.

    "Colombia doesn't need to continue being the biggest exporter of coca on the planet and we're going to prove it," President Juan Manuel Santos said while unveiling the new strategy on Tuesday.

    Santos decided in May to end aerial spraying of herbicides on coca crops after the World Health Organization said the popular weed killer glyphosate probably causes cancer.

    Over the past 20 years, more than 4 million acres in Colombia have been sprayed with glyphosate to kill coca plants, the Associated Press reports.

    As part of the new plan, growers who move from coca to alternative crops will receive financial and technical assistance.

    The amount of land under coca cultivation in Colombia rose 39% in 2014 to about 276,000 acres, according to the US government. That upward trend could continue with the end of aerial spraying, Columbia's inspector general warned.

    cancer, glyphosate, War on Drugs, Drug war, coca plants, cocaine, World Health Organization, Colombia, United States
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