Without phosphorus food cannot be produced, since all plants and animals need it to grow. Put simply: if there is no phosphorus, there is no life. As such, phosphorus-based fertilisers – it is the “P” in “NPK” fertiliser – have become critical to the global food system.
Rising competition for many of the world’s important crops is sending increasing amounts toward uses other than directly feeding people. These competing uses include making biofuels; converting crops into processing ingredients, such as livestock meal, hydrogenated oils and starches; and selling them on global markets to countries that can afford to pay for them.
If you’re one of the millions of people concerned about the growing pressures that our food habits are placing on the environment, then you’ve probably felt confused, conflicted or downright overwhelmed by your own food choices on more than a few occasions. Is quinoa good, evil, or somewhere in between? Were the coconuts in my coconut milk picked by a monkey? Am I a bad person if I eat an avocado?