What is connection between a roman emperor, a book by Sally Magnusson, world food price crisis of 2008, the mining industry of Morocco and dutch street urinals?

Stay with me for the second installment and I will tell you.

Food price and phosphate shortage

Rock phosphate
  price in the last ten years via http://www.indexmundi.com/

You can see on the graph reproduced from indexmundi.com the price fluctuation for rock phosphates over the last decade. Readily observable, in 2007-2008 the price for rock phosphates increased tenfold (!) over a short period of time, contributing significantly to what came to be known later as the '2008 world food price crisis'.

This generated a lot of interest in estimates of world reserves and not a few comparisons between phosphate and oil depletion crises (see for instance a paper in Scientific American). Which brings us to Morocco, where “white gold” (i.e. phosphorus) is mined.


Morocco possesses an estimate 75 to 85 (depending on the study cited) percent of the world's phosphate reserves. It is the world's first exporter (28% of the global market) and third producer (20% of global production).

  on phosphate world reserves and production

Phosphate fertilizer is used on just about every crop there is and is critically important in agriculture, a message that was forcibly driven home when prices climbed tenfold in 2007 and 2008. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek Magazine: "The prospect of a shortage has become serious enough that the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Energy Dept. recently assigned an analyst to study the issue; she was not permitted to speak publicly because of 'geopolitical sensitivities' ".

Anything to alleviate the significant dependency of the US and Europe countries on on Moroccan phosphates is suddenly is very attractive. Which brings us to the toilet revolution, our next link in the chain.

I would like to hear what YOU think. Please share your opinion (even more so if you do not agree)!

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