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Herausgeber: Jörg Köhn, 2015
Phosphorus economics - A review

BIOP Discussion-Paper

published by:

    Phosphorus is not a physically scarce resource but more than 90 per cent of the stock is not technically extractable. Economic scarcity takes this and other aspects into consideration. The price spike in 2007/8 induced a scientific debate on a "peak phosphorus" similar to the dispute on the oil peak back in the 1970ies. The processing use of phosphate rock to phosphorus ferti-lizers fed the Green Revolution and therefore was seen a chance to overcome the hunger on Earth. Hence the expansive use of phosphorus also had serious negative impacts to the envi-ronment and also on human health. Thus, the phosphorus dispute needs to be opened for other aspects besides the economic scarcity. The present day phosphorus technologies and econom-ics are unsustainable threatening food safety, food and feed security, human health and many environmental resources. The paper, therefore, focuses on some main aspects of the phospho-rus economics. (1) Phosphorus as an essential resource, (2) (economic) phosphorus scarcity that may harm food security, (3) external effects the main use path of phosphorus extraction towards the application in agriculture - mine to food or feed - has, and options to improve the efficiency along this path, (4) strategies to abate the phosphorus losses to the environment, (5) measures to recover phosphorus from various wastes including decontamination strategies, (6) changes in the phosphorus economy from rock to fertilizer if accompanying trace elements will be used, (7) the role of human consumption modes in phosphorus demand, and (8) a better agro-economy that improve phosphorus use efficiency. Each and any of the aspects dealt with in this paper only highlight some aspects of these rather complex topics. In conclusion, the phosphorus puzzle is very complex and cannot be reduced to economic scarcity since it also includes "political, quality, innovation, technology, chain versus cycle management and good governance" aspects. To really cope with the phosphorus scarcity, environmental impacts, food/feed security and health issues an institutional framework that assures a good go-vernance policy practice needs to be evolved.
12.11.2019 16:57