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Lack of phosphorus threat to global food production

A growing number of scientists warn that lack of phosphorus will seriously threaten global food production. LiU researcher Dana Cordell is interviewed in an article in The Times on June 23.

”Quite simply, without phosphorus we cannot produce food. At current rates, reserves will be depleted in the next 50 to 100 years,” she says.

”Phosphorus is as critical for all modern economies as water. If global water supply were as concentrated as global phosphorus supply, there would be much, much deeper concern. It is amazing that more attention is not being paid to ensuring phosphorus security.”

Dana Cordell is currently doctoral student jointly at the Water and environmental studies theme at Linköping University and the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

Phosphorus fertilizers are essential in modern farming. Since there is no substitute for phosphorus in food production, in addition to improving the effctiveness of the use of phosphorus, other sources, such as human and animal waste must be seriously explored to meet future global fertilizer and food demand.

During the last years the demand for phosphorus have grown faster than anyone had predicted, resulting in higher prices. In the past 14 months, the price of the raw material – phosphate rock – has surged by more than 700 per cent, which also has put pressure on food prices.

Because supplies of phosphorus suitable for mining are so limited, a new geoplitical map may be drawn around the remaining reserves. Morocco holds almost a third (32 per cent) of the world’s proven reserves. Beyond Morocco, the world’s chief phosphorus reserves for export are concentrated in western Sahara, South Africa, Jordan, Syria and Russia.


Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2009-06-03