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RIRDC congratulates Eureka Prize winning phosphorus researchers 29 Aug 2012

The Rural Industries R&D Corporation has congratulated Dr Dana Cordell and Professor Stuart White from the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology after being awarded the 2012 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research.

The Rural Industries R&D Corporation has supported Dr Cordell’s and Professor White’s research through funding studies that track the flow of phosphorus through the Australian food system.

The Rural Industries R&D Corporation’s Managing Director, Craig Burns said the ground-breaking work carried out by Dr Cordell and Professor White was important research deserving of the Eureka Prize.

“Dr Cordell and Professor White’s research has not only increased scientific knowledge about the issue of phosphorus availability but it has also importantly helped drive public debate,” Mr Burns said.

“Dr Cordell’s and Professor White’s research into the flow of phosphorus through the Australian food system found that despite being a net food exporter, Australia is a net importer of phosphorus, with a net of 80kt of phosphorus imported into the country each year. Their research showed that the Australian food system is far from sustainable with respect to phosphorus.”

Investigations by Dr Cordell and Professor White predict that without action and at current rates the world will have consumed its best supplies of phosphorus in as soon as 20 years.

"The RIRDC-funded analysis will enable the identification of key intervention points within agriculture and other sectors to increase the resilience, efficiency and 'closed-looped' nature of Australia's food system with respect to phosphorus," Dr Cordell said.

As part of their work, the scientists from the Institute for Sustainable Futures and their global colleagues have created an international network, the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative (GPRI). The GPRI is involved in public policy debate to raise awareness and prompt action to reduce wastage of phosphorus.

The $10,000 NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Eureka Prize for Environmental Research is awarded for research in any field of the biological, physical, mathematical or biomedical sciences leading to the resolution of an environmental problem, including a challenge posed by climate change, or the improvement of our natural environment.

Media contact: Damon Whittock, ph. 02 6271 4175.