In spite of them?
Evidently, death waits for no one, except in Belgium (“Death Waits for No One: Deferred demises take a couple of hits,” SN: 6/5/04, p. 356: Death Waits for No One: Deferred demises take a couple of hits). Around 40 years ago, Belgian doctors went on strike for 3 months. If I remember correctly, their explanation for the fact that the death rate dropped during this period was that their patients hung on until the doctors were back at work!
In “Limiting Dead Zones” (SN: 6/12/04, p. 378: Limiting Dead Zones), an agronomist claims that farmers “typically apply more fertilizer than their crops need” as an explanation for increased pollution in coastal waters. I don’t know any farmers who risk their products in the way suggested here. An examination of home lawn care would point to a much bigger problem.
While I agree that less fertilizer is better, there could be a green lining. A couple thousand miles of plastic pipe and some big pumps could create a superproductive zone in the Gulf by both aerating and mixing the water. More shrimp for all of us.
The article failed to mention the most obvious and effective way to reduce the amount of fertilizer used to grow corn: Grow less corn. Agribusiness grows far more corn than our nation needs. Hence, the wholesale replacement of cane sugar in snacks and the push for ethanol in gasoline.
El Cerrito, Calif.
Those of us who aren’t farmers can also reduce the amount of nitrate flowing into the Gulf of Mexico: We can buy organically grown food.
Perhaps we should look at the problem from another angle. Algae have a large potential as food for domestic animals. It shouldn’t be too difficult to develop algae farming, using the fertilized runoff from upstream farms. Let’s put some scientific farmers to work on the problem.
Victor E. Archer
Salt Lake City, Utah