“The global food system is addicted to chemical fertilizers. For the past 50 years, these fertilizers have been heavily promoted by global institutions, governments and agribusiness as the means for increasing crop yields, while other options for increasing soil fertility and food production have been ignored or undervalued. As a result, worldwide use of chemical fertilizers has increased tenfold since the 1960s. Some credit chemical fertilizers for enabling global food production to keep up with population growth, but their use has come at a high cost.
Chemical fertilizers are, today, major sources of water and air pollution. Overuse is widespread and an important cause of soil health degradation; proper use requires support and extension services that are rarely available. Chemical fertilizers account for 2.4% of global emissions, or one out of every 40 tons of global greenhouse gas emissions.
This year, the bill for these energy-intensive products has hit new heights. With the world in the midst of an energy and climate crisis, prices for chemical fertilizers are at record levels. Fertilizer corporations are using their market power to capture mega profits, while farmers and governments are scrambling to try and cope with the added costs, especially in the global South. High fertilizer prices are putting food production at severe risk in many places. In early October 2022, the United Nations warned that, if immediate action is not taken to bring fertilizer prices down, there could be a global shortage of food.”