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Phosphorus, Land Use and Absolute Quantity Reductions as a Legal Problem

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This article broaches the legal treatment of the declining, non-renewable, non-substitutable resource phosphorus which is indispensable for life. Furthermore, excessive and dissipative phosphorus entry into the environment, soils, and water bodies has significant harmful effects on ecosystems. Insufficient European and national legal regulations lack concreteness, real enforcement, prevention of relocating problems and a safeguard for absolute quantity reductions in phosphorus usage. Furthermore, it is the sum of multiple minor actions of farmers etc. that can lead to ecologically and resource-related fatale consequences. It is not sufficient to increase efficiency in phosphorus uptake per individual plant, because if crop cultivation is expanded to previously unused areas at the same time, for instance via greater animal feed crop production (due to globally rising meat consumption) or via bioenergy plant production, it will be impossible to achieve the necessary absolute phosphorus application reductions by higher efficiency per plant. We conclude that this will eventually lead to an important new strategy in environmental policy: "Technical solutions", "efficiency" and "command and control" alone will not solve resource problems or quantity problems if at the same time (global) production increases or remains at a constant high level.


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