Midwest corn production vs. Gulf of Mexico ecology

Categories: Environment

A dead zone free of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico is expanding rapidly, and scientists say corn production here is a primary culprit.

From as far north as Minnesota, runoff water laden with fertilizer nutrients nitrogen and phosphorous flows into river and into the Gulf, stimulating an overgrowth of algae. When the algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose, depleting oxygen levels in the water and choking out marine life.

“The strong link between nutrients and the dead zone indicates that excess nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed during the spring are the primary human-influenced factor behind the expansion of the dead zone,” said Rob Magnien, director of the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research.

With ethanol demand rising, corn crops have been increasing as well. This is great news if you're a farmer, and not so much if you're a tuna.

In solidarity with fish, the trees send a message in corn's general direction:

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