Phosphate is essential for agricultural production and therefore plays a key role in the global production of food and biofuels. There are no agricultural alternatives for phosphate, and a substantial fraction of our annual phosphate consumption is dispersed into the environment where it is largely lost to agriculture. Phosphate is an irreplaceable, and to a considerable extent non-renewable, resource that is being exploited at an ever increasing rate. The ongoing depletion of phosphate resources combined with recently increased phosphate prices urge us to reconsider our phosphate consumption patterns. In addition to economic and geo-political reasons, further reducing phosphate consumption would moreover be beneficial to the quality of our environment. Even if we increase the reserve base, for which there are plenty of opportunities, it is clear that the phosphate industry will sooner or later have to make a switch from a reserve-based industry to a recycling industry.
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