New UN report claims a fertilizer crisis is looming

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The United Nations has issued a new report, “Our Nutrient World,” that claims the world is facing a fertilizer crisis because some areas of the world have too much fertilizer and others not enough.

Although the report acknowledges that the application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer has benefitted the world by allowing plants to produce more food, it also criticizes the use of mass-produced nutrients that “cause a web of water and air pollution that is damaging to human health…”

The report points out that the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer has increase nine-fold since the 1960s and phosphorus use has tripled. It is projected that the world will increase its demand and use of fertilizers in the next 40 years by 40 percent to 50 percent.

Without access to fertilizer, however, many parts of the world cannot produce enough food and old practices continue to degrade the land.

With these topics in mind, the report suggests that the world needs to rethink how fertilizers are used so that more food and energy can be produced with less pollution. Ares of particular concern includes Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia, where there is not enough access to nutrients.

A question to be decided, says the report, is what body should oversee a new attempt at globally managing fertilizer use.

The lead author of the report is Professor Mark Sutton from the UK’s Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. He said, “Our analysis shows that by improving the management of the flow of nutrients we can help protect the environment, climate and human health, while addressing food and energy security concerns.”

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MO  |  February, 20, 2013 at 08:41 AM

Can you say communism??? "For the greater good" is the statement that always precedes the communist takeovers and we all know how well those have worked out.

Illlinois  |  February, 21, 2013 at 08:50 AM

I wonder if the U.N. has considered that yields from the 60's compared to yields now have doubled or even tripled in some cases? Higher yields = higher fertilizer requirements. Do we want a food crisis? Take us back to 60's level fertilizer levels and you'll get one.

bubba joost    
victoria, texas  |  February, 21, 2013 at 09:15 AM

A big " Amen " to the first 2 comments

Nebraska  |  February, 21, 2013 at 09:21 AM

What is wrong with the free market system. Producers will continue to increase yields when the reward out weighs the risk. Economics have always dictated what a producer invests. The areas of concern in this article have been lagging behind the US and always will until they invest in roads and rail transit to move goods to the regions that have needs. Is it not a little like which comes first the cart or the horse?

Colorado  |  February, 21, 2013 at 01:52 PM

Oh well, if it isn't one crisis its a dozen. Seems like every little jot of elitist ignorance gets spun into a big, scary crisis looming on the horizon poised surely to stomp us into little grease spots at any moment. In the meantime the UN and all the other busybody know-it-alls let Syria implode and North Korea act up. Too busy dreaming up scary fairy tales about farmers. Is there some way to cut funding to these useless UN blowhards?

Larry S    
Nebraska  |  February, 22, 2013 at 02:00 PM

We have urban development that takes many acres out of ag. production every year. We have increasing populations in the USA and the world. We must make our farms produce at high; but ECONOMIC levels. The UN officials think they can tell us how to farm and be profitable? GOOD GRIEF!!!

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