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Articles by Heather Mack

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Algae warning along Lake Erie, in Ohio

I have a confession to make: I love corn. I also love soy. Dammit, I even love wheat, like most American eaters. I love it baked, ground, deep-fried, or transformed into sirloin.

And, let’s face it – even the most packaged-food snubbing, label-reading locavores among us let some form of these conventional, fertilizer-loving crops slip past our lips every now and then.

Unfortunately, feeding these crops and ourselves also means feeding environmental catastrophe. Case in point, the massive algae bloom that has cropped up on Lake Erie. Show me a crop that loves fertilizer, and I’ll show you an aquatic bacteria that loves it even more.  

Invigorated from phosphorus-laden runoff sweeping out of farms, the fast-growing, green-tinted algae is thriving from the  fertilizer intended to nourish crops. The algae — cyanobacteria, to be precise — uses photosynthesis to create energy, loves warm water, and is so robust that scientists have dubbed it “the cockroaches of the aquatic world.”

Last year, a massive bloom of the same species contaminated the drinking water of half a million Toledo, Ohio, residents, and it’s fair to say that agriculture had a... Read more

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