Marketplace has a new podcast for kids, "Million Bazillion!" EPISODE OUT NOW
BBC World Service

Phosphorous: Where Morocco is OPEC

Marketplace Contributor Nov 7, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY
BBC World Service

Phosphorous: Where Morocco is OPEC

Marketplace Contributor Nov 7, 2013
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In a new series called “Elementary Business,” the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt takes a new look at the economy — using a microscope. He’s tracking the chemical elements that play an important role in the global economy, starting with phosphorous.

Phosphorous is in everything — DNA, plant life, bacteria.  The best known use of phosphorous is probably as a fertilizer. It’s an essential component of modern farming and helps increase the amount of crops a farmer can get from any one field.

And while phosphorous is everywhere, almost all the mineable phosphorous is in…Morocco.

“This is bigger than OPEC,” says Rowlatt “Morocco has a stranglehold on the world’s phosphorous market.”

Phosphorous is such an important part of agriculture today that an increase in the price of phosphorous would lead to higher food prices.

Rowlatt says there are attempts to “recover” phosphorous — including those at a sewage plant in Slough, in the UK. The folks at that plant believe they could one day extract about 20 percent of the UK’s phosphorous needs from sewage.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.