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Weed management: Alternatives to the use of glyphosate

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While the use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture has helped to increase food production, this has occurred at great cost to the environment, natural resources, and human health. The 2017 United Nations (UN) report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food highlights the adverse impact of pesticide use on human rights, human health (workers, their families, bystanders, residents, and consumers), and the environment. The report also reveals that intensive agriculture based on pesticide use has not contributed to reducing world hunger.

Herbicides are used in agriculture and horticulture to combat weeds that, above certain thresholds, compete with crops and pasture for nutrients, water, and sunlight resulting in reduced crop and livestock yield and quality, which in turn reduces profitability. The next most widespread use is for no-till and reduced tillage systems where herbicides, principally those based on glyphosate, are used to kill all vegetation, both post-harvest and also before crop and pasture establishment. A third use is to ripen and desiccate grain and seed crops before harvest. Non-agricultural uses include the management of invasive plant species, assisting the management of public areas, for aesthetics or reducing hazards (e.g., sidewalks, pavements, and railways), or for weed control in private gardens.



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