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P Summit calls for a 'new alchemy' around phosphorus and food
Date:2/12/2011

The problem with phosphorus, a critical element in fertilizers and food, is, as comedian Rodney Dangerfield would say, that it "can't get no respect."

Increasingly scarce, yet commonly overused in agricultural fields, polluting streams and lakes, this essential component of our bones, our DNA, the periodic table and the dinner table may soon join oil on the endangered species list without change in attitudes of policy-makers, research ingenuity and sustainable strategies.

"Phosphorus sustainability is a 'wicked' problem, but it is not a rarified problem," says Stuart White, director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures in Sydney, Australia. "We need to learn from other resource areas, address things in a cost-effective way. Food affects everyone. There is strong economic and social advantage to create a 'soft landing'."

White was one of the more than 100 scientists, engineers, farmers, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, educators, artists, students and others who met Feb. 3-5 at Arizona State University to create awareness and change around global phosphorus use at the Sustainable Phosphorus (P) Summit.

"The P Summit was an important milestone in the emerging global dialogue around phosphorus scarcity and sustainability," says summit speaker Dana Cordell, a researcher with the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and co-founder of the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative in 2008.

"The summit was distinguished by its participatory, interdisciplinary and creative approach that allowed participants from diverse backgrounds to share their different knowledge and perspectives on the global phosphorus challenge," states Cordell. "It was very solution-focused and came up with strategies for how we might move together toward a more sustainable situation."

The 3-day summit was the first international gathering on U.S. soil around this growing global sustainability challenge. Developed by ASU doctoral a
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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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