Navigation Links
Dietary shifts driving up phosphorus use
Date:1/17/2013

Dietary changes since the early 1960s have fueled a sharp increase in the amount of mined phosphorus used to produce the food consumed by the average person over the course of a year, according to a new study led by researchers at McGill University.

Between 1961 and 2007, rising meat consumption and total calorie intake underpinned a 38% increase in the world's per capita "phosphorus footprint," the researchers conclude in a paper published online in Environmental Research Letters.

The findings underscore a significant challenge to efforts to sustainably manage the supply of mined phosphorus, a non-renewable resource widely used as fertilizer. When phosphorus is lost through agricultural runoff or sewage systems, it can pollute waterways downstream. In addition, because deposits are heavily concentrated in a few countries, global supplies and prices for the resource are vulnerable to geopolitical tensions.

In recent years, many researchers have explored how human activity has altered the phosphorus cycle in the environment and how management of phosphorus could be altered to ensure long-term sustainability. This new study sheds more light, in particular, on how diet choices have affected the intensity of phosphorus use around the world.

"Our results demonstrate that changes in diet can be a significant part of the strategy for enhancing sustainability of phosphorus management," says lead author Genevive Metson, a doctoral student in McGill's Department of Natural Resource Sciences. "In particular, reduced consumption of meat, and especially beef, in countries with large phosphorus footprints could put a big dent in demand for mined phosphorus since it takes many kilograms of feed, which is fertilized, to produce a kilogram of meat."

Metson and her co-authors, Prof. Elena M. Bennett of the McGill School of the Environment and Arizona State University Prof. James J. Elser, computed phosphorus-footprint values based on annual country-by-country diet composition data from the Food and Agriculture Organization. They calculated the total amount of phosphorus applied to food crops for humans and animals by using fertilizer-application rates available through the International Fertilizer Association, among other sources. The authors also examined the statistical relationship between economic development and phosphorus-footprint values, and developed scenarios to consider the relative importance of diet changes.

"It is really remarkable how much influence changes in diet have had on our demand for this very limited resource," Bennett says. "As research in this area proceeds, it would also be interesting to learn how much of the phosphorus used in food production is able to be recycled and how much is currently reused. Food waste and human waste generally aren't reused today, but can be a valuable resource if turned into fertilizer or compost for use on nearby agricultural fields."


'/>"/>

Contact: Chris Chipello
christopher.chipello@mcgill.ca
514-398-4201
McGill University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Zebrafish research shows how dietary fat regulates cholesterol absorption
2. Neuroprotective dietary supplements for chronic spinal cord injury
3. Research provides new insights into dogs natural feeding behavior and finds they target a daily dietary intake that is high in fat
4. New health-economic model shows benefits of boosting dietary calcium intake
5. Warming causes more extreme shifts of the Southern Hemispheres largest rain band
6. Surprising demographic shifts in endangered monkey population challenge conservation expectations
7. Wind pushes plastics deeper into oceans, driving trash estimates up
8. Changing climate, not tourism, seems to be driving decline in chinstrap-penguin populations
9. When the soil holds not enough phosphorus
10. Helping pigs to digest phosphorus
11. The Phosphorus Index: Changes afoot
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:11/17/2016)... it has just released a new white paper authored by Zettar that covers the ... transfer storage solutions. Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20161116/440463 ... ... ... Setting up a high performance computing or HPC system can be a complicated endeavor ...
(Date:11/14/2016)... Calif. , Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... biometric identification market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes ... & Sullivan Award for Visionary Innovation Leadership. ... in the biometric identification market by pioneering ... verification solution for instant, seamless, and non-invasive ...
(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2016)... 30, 2016  GenomOncology today announced the appointment of ... Affairs.  Dr. Coleman will oversee clinical content ... knowledge-enabled platform. The GenomOncology software suite empowers molecular pathologists with ... and clinical decision support, from quality control through reporting. ... , , ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... , Nov. 30, 2016  The Allen ... Cell Collection: the first publicly available collection of ... cells that target key cellular structures with unprecedented ... Research, these powerful tools are a crucial first ... to better understand what makes human cells healthy ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... November 2016   Merck , ein ... Unterzeichnung einer Reihe von Vereinbarungen mit Evotec ... AG Screeningleistungen für Mercks Palette genetischer Reagenzien ... auf diese Bibliotheken in Kombination mit Evotecs ... Weg zur Ermittlung und Erforschung neuer Arzneimitteltargets.    ...
(Date:11/30/2016)... ... November 30, 2016 , ... Energetiq Technology, a world leader ... generation, ultra-bright, Laser-Driven Light Source, the EQ-77, at the MRS Fall Exhibit 2016. ... offers higher radiance and irradiance from a truly broadband white light source. The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: