EPA: Agricultural Nitrogen and Phosphorus is Reason for Gulf Dead Zone

The EPA’s recent report about hypoxia in the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is very damaging for agriculture. They tell us that eliminating the pollution-caused hypoxia would require large shifts in food production and agricultural management.

As shown in the above graphic, they have determined that 71 percent of nitrogen released into the Gulf is from agriculture, and 80 percent of phosphorus is from agriculture. Furthermore, the states that contribute the most to the farmland induced nutrient pollution of the rivers and gulf are reluctant and resistant to inducing any changes which would reduce the farm runoffs, though they have been asked to do so.

Sadly, runoff of these nutrients also translates to loss of our precious topsoil resource in our nation, something every citizen should feel responsible to defend politically. Soil runoff threatens future farmland productivity.

Right policy could reduce farm nutrient runoff, and the biggest culprit right now is the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires us to grow millions upon millions of acres more corn than we need. Which means the EPA’s plea to reduce the Dead Zone makes no sense because they are also the ones who set the RFS mandated use of corn ethanol. Does their right hand know what their left hand is doing?

source: www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2014/20140902-14-P-0348.pdf

Ethanol Export Expansion Possible

This U.S. Grains Council chart illustrates potential ethanol use if countries enforced their current biofuels mandates.

The U.S. Grains Council is looking to export markets for ethanol expansion…

If countries enforced existing biofuels mandates using ethanol, their gasoline use in 2012 would suggest that the top 10 ethanol consumers would require 3.5 billion gallons of the renewable fuel. The next 10 would add another 393 million gallons of demand.

As examples of the potential ethanol demand that would be driven by enforcement of existing mandates, ethanol consumption in Japan would increase from 9 to 459 million gallons and in Mexico, from 4 to 236 million gallons. Starting this fall, the team will assess Japan and Korea, Latin America and Southeast Asia as potential markets for U.S. ethanol exports.

These markets represent the potential for a huge growth in global ethanol demand. The Council and its partners have initiated ethanol export market development programs in 2014.

Note that looking to expand the export of ethanol in today’s environment of surplus corn was highly expected. Maybe we should call it exporting our topsoil, exporting our tax dollars, and, exporting our Monarch’s and our songbirds to some forgotten place. Who are the winners? The big agribusiness companies.

source: http://grains.org/news/20140814/top-10-potential-us-ethanol-markets-20142015

Tomorrow’s World: Botanical Technoluminescence


This video explores an idea which is already a reality – in which synthetic biology techniques combine bioluminescence from fireflies or jellyfish with plants – such as trees. These trees of tomorrow could become our future world’s streetlights which would be both energy neutral and “poetic”, according to Daan Roosegaarde. In his artistic vision, he sees us getting away from our technology screens towards a world in which we experience technology in the daily things around us – in things like living plants.

Reactions to his idea are various… What about the birds at night? It would be beautiful and eloquent! It could be natural lighting sans coal burning… We need to stop playing God with DNA…

NASA, too, has already used luminescence in plant stressor genes to study plant growth under no gravity conditions on the ISS and found the experimental method very helpful.

In nature, more than twenty bioluminescent versions exist that have evolved in living things including fireflies, jellyfish, bacteria, anglerfish, squids, and glow worms.

Whatever your opinion about using Nature’s codes may be, this technology is already real and is here to stay.