Less Corn. More Shrimp.

2013 Hypoxic zone measurements

Do you like shrimp?

This year’s Deadzone in our Gulf of Mexico waters will be about the size of Connecticut. It is estimated that the Dead Zone causes losses of $82 million per year to the seafood and tourism industries.

Much of it is caused by corn cropland fertilizer runoff that ends up going down the Mississippi River. Corn used to fuel cars – cropland used to feed cars, not people. In contrast, a healthy Gulf of Mexico sans Dead Zone would be capable of growing more shrimp, crabs, clams, and fish which humans love to eat. Which would you vote for if it were your choice, if you got to pick one over the other?

We should all resent this loss of soil and wasted fertilizer that poisons our – what should be – naturally rich, abundant, seafood-producing region of the United States, our Gulf of Mexico.

This is what agribusiness lobbyists, a couple dozen Midwestern policy makers in D.C., and a presidential caucus that begins in Iowa, have bought for you, Americans.

Wouldn’t we be a richer nation and have a higher quality of life if our vote was cast for healthy land, rivers, and waterways? If our vote was cast for a healthy seafood-producing Gulf region? The many livelihoods which could be enriched in the Gulf region would exceed the few Midwestern jobs at ethanol plants in a region where this biofuels policy is only contributing to ongoing depopulation of the Midwest as farms continue to get larger.

We live in an era where we struggle to find enough clean seafood. We could all win by having a healthy Gulf and healthy Midwestern land and water if we would reverse the corn ethanol mandate, prioritize sustainable farming methods, reestablish grasslands along waterways, encourage sustainable grazing lands, and grow real-food crops on smaller more biodiverse farms, once again, in the Midwest.

Less corn. More shrimp!

For further reading see:

1. Summer ‘Dead Zone’ expert notes connection to midwest corn planted for ethanol from Houston’s news.

2. 2014 Forecast: Summer Hypoxic Zone Size, Northern Gulf of Mexico (EPA)

3. Dead Zone Size of Connecticut Demands Federal Action.

Fighting Desertification in China Illustrated

These three photos show us how the Chinese are working to try to prevent the spread of the Maowusu Desert.

In this first photo, Chinese workers sow seeds in hay grids to prevent sand from floating with the wind at the edge of the expanding Maowusu Desert in Baijitan Conservation Area on July 22, 2014 near Lingwu, China.

China has 2.64 million square kilometers of land eaten up by desertification, accounting for 27 percent of its land territory. Direct economic losses are estimated at 120 billion RMB yuan (US$ 19 billion) a year.

The next photo shows hay being transported on a tractor, to be used for preventing desertification at the edge of the expanding Maowusu Desert in Baijitan Conservation Area on July 22, 2014 near Lingwu, China.

The third photo shows an individual working in the hay grids.

The photos are by Hong Wu/Getty Images.