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An element of concern: phosphorus, food and our future
Date:12/16/2010

ewater reclamation, and functional approaches to issues of social and environmental equity, development of national and international policy and long-term sustainability.

Element scarcity

Phosphorus has been operating at the level of human society for some time. It is key to development of bones, teeth and DNA. As a key component of fertilizer, phosphorus is also as critical to agriculture as water. Farmers use millions of tons of phosphorus on their fields every year, much of which is later literally flushed down toilets.

While human activities are estimated to have increased bioavailable phosphorus by 400 percent and fueled the green revolution, they have also led to severe environmental consequences, greening of waterways, contamination of coastal waters and formation of dead zones. And the demand for phosphorus continues to increase even while phosphate reserves, the only viable source of this critical element, are on the decline.

Some countries are beginning to address the potential threat of long-term phosphorus scarcity, such as China and Sweden. The United States, the largest consumer of phosphorus, has, however, largely ignored the issue, which is why ASU scientists and students launched the Sustainable Phosphorus Initiative on Earth Day in 2010. This effort was spearheaded by James Elser, Regents Professor in the School of Life Sciences in ASUs College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Daniel Childers, professor in the School of Sustainability and senior sustainability scientist with the Global Institute of Sustainability; and Mark Edwards, professor with W.P. Carey School of Business (http://vimeo.com/13160504). The group also maintains a website and a blog, http://sustainablep.asu.edu/

Call for artists

What can be done is just one of the questions to be explored at this interdisciplinary workshop-based conf
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Contact: margaret coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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