Planet Money took a look at phosphorus in the business cycle, and found that supplies are scarce, and concentrated in Morocco. For an element essential to industrial food production, this gives Morocco power parallel to OPEC and petroleum products. But in Brattleboro, Vermont, another source of phosphorus is being explored: urine. The Rich Earth Institute has unique strategies for "mining" this resource--instead of flushing it unrecoverably into waste water. But logistic problems still exist.
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