Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP.

While phosphorous is key to boosting plant growth (and lowering the cost of food production), its use in the masses is polluting our soil and water, reports NPR.

A key component in industrial fertilizer, phosphorous is applied in large concentrations to entire regions to not just produce the fruits, veggies and grains that we eat, but also to grow the feed for livestock. And this is where things get even scarier: grown with copious amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen, the livestock feed and its nutrients become articulated into the flesh of the livestock, as well as pass through into the animals’ waste, where they build up in the soils surrounding animal-producing regions. Ecological disaster then ensues as storm water washes these high concentrations of nutrients into our streams, lakes and estuaries.

Read more here.

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Courtney Quirin is a trained wildlife ecologist turned environmental journalist with a knack for photography and visual storytelling. Though her interests span many topics and disciplines, she's particularly keen on capturing multimedia stories pertaining to the global wildlife trade, human-wildlife relationships, food security, international development and the effects of global markets on local environments and cultural fabric. Courtney completed a MSc in Wildlife Management at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where she not only learned how to catch and tag fur seals (among many things) but also traveled to the highlands of Ethiopia to identify the nature and extent of farmer-primate conflict and its linkages to changes in political regime, land tenure, food security, and perceptions of risk. From New Zealand Courtney landed at The Ohio State University to investigate urban coyotes for her PhD, but just shy of 2 years deep into the degree, she realized that her true passions lie within investigative journalism. Since moving into the world of journalism, Courtney has been a contributor to Bay Nature Magazine, a ghostwriter for WildAid, and the science writer for While at Berkeley's J-School Courtney will focus on international environmental reporting through the lens of documentary filmmaking and TV.

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