28 Oct '11, 10am
How phosphorus shortages could increase global food prices
In particular, there is disagreement about the size of global phosphate rock reserves and thus the likelihood and timing of ‘peak phosphate’ (i.e. when phosphate production reaches a maximum rate, after which it starts to decline). The International Fertiliser Development Centre published research in September 2010, based on new reserves estimates by the US Geological Survey, which argued that there are sufficient phosphate rock reserves to produce fertiliser for the next 300-400 years. Their findings have been disputed by a group of scientists at the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, who query the data, and argue that even if the new reserves estimates are accurate, they would still expect peak phosphate within this century.