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Dead zones

(article, Culinate staff)

The vast dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, created by agricultural runoff funneled down the Mississippi River, generally gets plenty of press every year. This year, however, the increasing chemical woes of the Chesapeake Bay are garnering coverage. 

The Bay's problems are also caused by agricultural runoff, and rainy weather this year has made the Bay's dead zone its biggest ever, with oxygen depletion covering a third of the bay. The same is true of the Gulf of Mexico, which is also set to break its own size records, thanks to this year's flooding throughout the Midwest.

On Mother Jones, Tom Philpott criticized Big Ag for refusing to take responsibility for the problem, blaming urban runoff for the problem instead of its own farming practices:

bq. This is pure industry hucksterism. In the Gulf, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, "agricultural sources contribute more than 70 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus . . . versus only 9 to 12 percent from urban sources." 

For further reading, Philpott suggests the Pew Group's recent report on America's poultry industry, which lays the blame for much of the Chesapeake's filth at the feet of, well, chickens.