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Are The Environmental Bogeyman's Days Numbered?

One of the biggest baddest bogeymen of environmentalists may be about to bite the dust.  No I don’t mean BP, much as some would wish it, and nor do I mean all the burger munching junkies whose dependence on flatulent cows is pushing climate change over the edge.

I’m talking about  Monsanto, creator of the super weed and screwer of every last cent out of the poor and malnourished.  Sadly though, they’ve always had a point: if we could somehow boost agricultural yields it would halt escalating food prices, lift millions out of poverty and “eradicate” (but use the word advisedly) starvation.

The debate rages around Monsanto’s claims.  Is this really improved yields, asks one camp, or just reduced crop loss?  Crop loss say some, pointing out pesticides aren’t, um, fertilisers.  Real yield gains, says Monsanto, pointing to studies showing yield increases of up to 50%.

50%? Pffft .. child’s play! For up has popped Ali Zum Mazhar and his revolutionary natural fertilizer, which trials show can increase yields by between 200 and 350%. Yeah.. stick that in your combine harvester and smoke it you gene-splicing, poison spreading goblins!

Back in 2000, Mazhar was researching his doctorate in the forests of Indonesia when he came across some soil microbes which caught his eye.  After years of research he came up with a now patented process called bio-perforation, which translates the microbes into a liquid form.

Once in this form the microbes are called “Bio P 2000 Z” and can be used as a naturally biodegradable fertiliser.  Farming trials in Indonesia have produced yields of up to 300% and showed the fertiliser can return previously infertile areas to agricultural use.

This last has caught the eye of the international agrarian community and Mazhar is currently working on a project to convert desert in Bahrain into farmland.  This should take six months, he believes, by the end of which the first plants and trees should be growing.

Others have seen further possibilities, with Conservation International raising the possibility of using the fertiliser to aid reforestation in Indonesia.  Just in the nick of time too as the recent $1bn REDD+ agreement between Indonesia and Norway specifically excludes reforestation.

So, a stunning new technology which may help us roll back our rape and plunder of the natural world? … as long as it doesn’t fall into the hands of those who simply want to make gross profits from those who need it most, let’s hope so.

Picture Credit: Sen’Jin Hold ‘Em by Aggro Arts from flickr under Creative Commons Attribution License, trimmed by Chris Milton.

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Written By

is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.


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