Study links corn production, air pollution

A study published in the journal Nature Sustainability says U.S. corn production contributes to air pollution. An NPR story about the report says fertilizer application, exhaust, pesticides and dust from corn production contribute to 4,300 air pollution deaths annually.

“It’s a really, really unfortunate way to try and highlight all the work that we’ve done and that continue to go on  when we’re talking about nutrient use,” said Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability for the National Corn Growers Association.

The study puts the most pollution blame on ammonia from fertilizer.

“The way that we react, I would say, is just to highlight all the work that’s been done, all the research that’s going into nutrient use efficiency that’s out there and hopefully not spend more money and more resources on paper studies trying to link it to horrible situations like he’s claiming here,” said Fields.

The study’s author is engineering professor Jason Hill at the University of Minnesota. He says changing fertilizer practices, such as injecting nitrogen-based fertilizers, could mitigate the harmful effects of corn production.

AUDIO: Nathan Fields

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