If you wanted to really mess with the world’s food production, a good place to start would be in Morocco.
If you wanted to really mess with the world’s food production, a good place to start would be in Morocco. They don’t grow much here, but it is home to mines containing most of the world’s known reserves of phosphate rock, the main source of the nutrient phosphorus. Most of us across the globe, most days, will eat some food grown on fields fertilized by phosphate rock from these mines.
Phosphorus is an essential mineral to grow food, but research suggests that this is being mined unsustainably. If reserves run low, food production will be constrained and starvation entirely possible.
Now, David Vaccari, an environmental engineer at Stevens Institute of Technology, and colleagues have developed a model to describe how phosphorus flows through the global food system. The model, reported in the Sept. 4 issue of Environmental Science & Technology, can predict how several different conservation approaches could reduce demand for a nonrenewable resource that is absolutely vital for feeding the world.
“Phosphate is spread across the planet but hardly recycled,” said Vaccari, a pioneer in phosphate research who led the work. “The model allows us to answer specific ‘what if’ questions to see how certain changes in human behavior could significantly improve the conservation of this resource and by extension, help sustain the world’s food production.”
Read more at Stevens Institute of Technology
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